Police officers will attempt to search individuals and private property if they think that they can locate evidence of criminal misconduct. Prosecutors can also influence the search process by supporting a police officer’s request for a warrant from a judge.
The goal for state authorities is always to locate as much evidence as possible and maintain high solve and conviction rates for reported criminal activity. Unfortunately, that means that there could be an incentive for police officers and other authority figures to violate your rights.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which contains the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, help prevent abuses of power by those who work in law enforcement and in the criminal justice system. The Fourth Amendment provides crucial protection against unnecessary searches and seizures. How does the Fourth Amendment reduce your likelihood of unfair treatment by the state?
Every search requires a justification
Police officers cannot just stop your vehicle over a minor speeding issue and then proceed to search your person and your vehicle in the hopes of finding something else to justify more serious criminal charges. An officer who wants to search will typically need either permission or a warrant.
Probable cause is the final reason that an officer could search a person or their property. If there are clear warning signs of criminal activity, then an officer could perform a search even if the person declines to give permission. All law enforcement officers at both the federal and state level should have received training on the Fourth Amendment and on the proper process for conducting searches, which can help protect citizens from unfair invasions of their privacy.
Violations of the Fourth Amendment can affect court cases
Just like individuals accused of crimes may have knowingly violated criminal statutes, so too do police officers and others in positions of authority sometimes knowingly break the rules regarded regarding the search of a person or their property.
When you have evidence that the police violated your rights, possibly by forcing their way into your home to search without probable cause or a warrant, a lawyer could potentially help you challenge the inclusion of any evidence they gathered during those searches in your trial. Typically, prosecutors cannot use any evidence obtained through police misconduct.
The Fourth amendment both protects you by establishing rights and then also by helping you fight back after a violation of your rights occurs. Knowing the rules that limit certain police behavior can help you plan the best response to pending criminal charges.