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Most people aren’t overly familiar with their Fourth Amendment rights. Even though police officials should be knowledgeable about them, this knowledge does not always prevent them from inappropriate actions. That’s why a defense attorney must be an expert when it comes to search and seizure. Here are three things every citizen should know about the Fourth Amendment.

Essential Fourth Amendment Facts

1. When the Fourth Amendment Protects You and When it Protects the Police

A defense attorney knows that the Fourth Amendment is designed to limit police power when making arrests and searching people and property. The amendment prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizure by law enforcement. However, the amendment also protects the right of police to conduct reasonable searches. Probable cause or a search warrant are typically required, but a defense attorney can question whether or not probable cause existed. 

A defense attorney quickly becomes adept at figuring out whether or not the police had probable cause to conduct a search, make an arrest or seize property. With the input from a defense attorney, the court may conclude that an illegal search or seizure makes the evidence gathered during that incident inadmissible. In some instances, this may mean a dismissal of charges.

2. You Don’t Have to Consent to a Search

This is one that every defense attorney wishes more people knew. Citizens have no obligation to submit to a search, especially if they haven’t done anything wrong. If a police officer asks to search your pockets, your purse or your car, you have the right to say no. If they proceed anyway, you may have the basis to make claims against them.

3. Always Consult a Defense Attorney

If the police searched you or your property and charges have been filed, you definitely need the services of a defense attorney. However, you may also want to consider legal action if you were searched and nothing was found. Legal actions like these can keep the police from abusing power.

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