During a criminal investigation, you must balance two competing interests. The first is the interests of the government and the second is whether the intrusion violates your Fourth Amendment rights.
According to the U.S. Courts, the Fourth Amendment protects the public against unnecessary government searches and seizures. This amendment does not guarantee protection from all searches and seizures but those considered unreasonable based on the law.
What the Fourth Amendment protects
The protections under the Fourth Amendment apply to police searches and situations where you have a reasonable expectation to maintain your privacy, such as searches of your luggage, car, home or business. These protections also apply to situations involving a law enforcement official who stops or arrests an individual.
Examples of where the Fourth Amendment applies
A few situations where the Fourth Amendment can protect your legal rights include the following:
- You get stopped for questioning by a law enforcement official while walking down the street.
- You get pulled over for committing a minor traffic infraction and the law enforcement official requests to search the trunk of your car.
- A law enforcement official enters your home to place you under arrest.
- A law enforcement official comes into your home to look for evidence of a crime.
A law enforcement official can violate your constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment when he or she conducts any unlawful search or seizure. If this occurs, the legal system cannot rely on any evidence obtained during the unlawful search and seizure in any impending criminal proceedings.