“Search and Seizure” and the Fourth Amendment – FindLaw

Posted: July 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects personal privacy, and every citizen's right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property -- whether through police stops of citizens on the street, arrests, or searches of homes and businesses.

What Does the Fourth Amendment Protect?

In the criminal law realm, Fourth Amendment "search and seizure" protections extend to:

The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards to individuals during searches and detentions, and prevents unlawfully seized items from being used as evidence in criminal cases. The degree of protection available in a particular case depends on the nature of the detention or arrest, the characteristics of the place searched, and the circumstances under which the search takes place.

When Does the Fourth Amendment Apply?

The legal standards derived from the Fourth Amendment provide constitutional protection to individuals in the following situations, among others:

Potential scenarios implicating the Fourth Amendment, and law enforcement's legal obligation to protect Fourth Amendment rights in those scenarios, are too numerous to cover here. However, in most instances a police officer may not search or seize an individual or his or her property unless the officer has:

What if My Fourth Amendment Rights Are Violated?

When law enforcement officers violate an individual's constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, and a search or seizure is deemed unlawful, any evidence derived from that search or seizure will almost certainly be kept out of any criminal case against the person whose rights were violated. For example:

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"Search and Seizure" and the Fourth Amendment - FindLaw