If you have ever watched any type of legal drama TV show, you probably have somewhat of an idea that there is a constitutional amendment – the Fourth Amendment to be exact – that protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. And while it is important for everyone to have some understanding of what this amendment means, it is particularly important for those facing criminal charges to understand not only what it means, but what can happen if police fail to follow the proper protocols.
No. 1: You have a right to privacy
The simple fact that you are a U.S. resident means you have a right to privacy. This means police cannot just walk into your home or place of business and start looking around. Nor can an officer just start digging through your car during a traffic stop.
Your right to privacy is not a suggestion either, or something that should be taken lightly. Rather, this is one of your constitutional rights and you should defend it.
No. 2: Police must obtain a search warrant
Never give police permission to start looking through your belongings without them first obtaining a valid search warrant. You may mistakenly think that granting permission without a warrant shows you have nothing to hide, but the truth is that police could end up using anything they find — or your own words — against you. This is why the two big pieces of advice are always to demand a search warrant and to avoid accidentally incriminating yourself by speaking to police without a lawyer present.
No. 3: It may be possible to suppress evidence
All law enforcement officials are aware of the Fourth Amendment and know they are supposed to obtain a search warrant. However, there are still plenty of cases where an unlawful search and seizure leads to an arrest and charges. In these cases, your attorney may be able to have evidence thrown out if it was determined this was obtained in violation of your rights.