Search & Seizures: What Your Rights Are
The justice system is a key part of our society, ensuring that laws are in place for the protection of each citizen, and that they are upheld and applied equitably. Key to ensuring the fairness of the legal system are protections for not only the victims of crime, but of those who are accused.
In a perfect system, law enforcement officials would never make a mistake, would never be corrupt, would never let prejudice or stereotyping alter their application of the law. But we do not have a perfect system. Police and judges can make mistakes, behave improperly, and misapply the law.
It is a sensible attitude to hold some skepticism of authority. We must hold authority to the same legal and ethical standards that all citizens should follow. This mistrust of authority is a core tenet of the American legal system, and it was built in to the Constitution as the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
This protection exists to ensure that law enforcement officials follow the proper channels for conducting a search of any person or their possessions. Police must follow the proper procedures for obtaining a warrant before searching any premises or arresting any citizen, and any search, seizure, or arrest made without probable cause or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing is invalid as evidence in a court of law.
If you are facing criminal charges and think that police misconduct has violated your fourth amendment rights during a search, seizure, or arrest, then you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away.