The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and What it Means for You: A South Florida Criminal Lawyer Explains

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” 

To operate effectively, your corporate will require professional body corporate fees and management services. In addition, you will need clear and detailed advice on all the relevant legislation.

It was written in response to British officials who often went unchecked when collecting taxes and would often go door-to-door searching homes and seizing property without reason. 

Understanding the Fourth Amendment 

What does this mean for you in modern times? The Fourth Amendment places limits on the power of the police to detain and search people. This helps to protect Americans’ privacy and freedom. It also establishes guidelines for what constitutes a “reasonable” search and the policies that must be followed. 

This means that the police or other law enforcement agencies have the right to search you, your home, car, boat, workplace or other personal place if they have probable cause to believe you have committed a crime in which a search warrant must be issued by a judge; and/or if the particular situation justifies the search without a warrant being issued first. 

The Fourth Amendment also only applies when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. a public place like a shopping mall or school) the Fourth Amendment does not apply because there are no privacy issues

An expectation of privacy is determined using guidelines established by the U.S. Supreme Court. The guidelines are, “did the person being searched expect privacy?” and “Is that expectation reasonable and one that society would recognize?” So what happens when a search does not meet these criteria and violates the Fourth Amendment? 

If a person believes that a search has been performed upon them unreasonably they will need to consult a criminal lawyer who will bring this issue to the court. 

If a court finds that a search has violated the Fourth Amendment, any evidence or other information gathered cannot be used against a defendant in a state or federal criminal prosecution. However, this does not always dismiss a case. If a prosecutor has other evidence, legally obtained, the case can continue.  

Protecting your Rights 

If you are stopped by the police whether walking down the street or in your car you can protect your rights. 

In an interaction with the police you have the right to: 

  • remain silent;
  • refuse to consent to a search of yourself, vehicle or home;
  • if not under arrest, you have the right to request to leave; and
  • ask for a criminal lawyer. 

Remember to always remain calm and polite. Call a friend or family member if possible to let them know you have been stopped. 

Never lie or give false documents to a police officer. A complaint against an officer cannot be filed on the street so don’t try to challenge an officer or resist an arrest on the scene. Contacting a criminal lawyer as soon as possible after or during an interaction with the police is always the best decision.  

A criminal lawyer will work with you to determine if your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. Write down everything you remember about the encounter including an officer’s badge number and patrol car numbers. This information can help in your case and when you file a written complaint against the officer and/or law enforcement agency. 

If you need help after what you believe was an unlawful search, reach out to a criminal lawyer who can help you decide what actions to take.  

Contacting a South Florida Criminal Lawyer 

If you are facing criminal charges in the Miami area, your legal team is your best defense. The defense team you choose to represent you in court, defend your rights, and relentlessly pursue your case could be the difference between jail time and getting on with your life. Contact the Miami criminal defense attorney team at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – 1-877-663-5110.