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What is the Fourth Amendment about?

Search and seizure laws are often misunderstood. Some people might think that law enforcement officers can take anything they want and others might think that law enforcement officers don't have the right to take anything. The truth is that searches and seizures are governed by the principles set in the Fourth Amendment.

What some people might not realize is that the Fourth Amendment covers searches of your person, as well as searches of your belongings and dwelling. Even if you are being stopped or detained, you still have Fourth Amendment rights to protect you. It also covers the seizure of your person, which is also known as an arrest, and the seizure of your property.

Generally, there are three ways that a law enforcement officer can search you or your property or seize you or your property. The first is if there is probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime. The second is if the officer has a valid warrant to conduct a search. The third is if the officer has a valid warrant for your arrest. These three instances would give the officer the right to the search or seizure.

When Fourth Amendment rights are violated, any evidence that was gathered as a result of the seizure or search during which the violation occurred would be considered illegally obtained. That could result in the evidence being classified as inadmissible for the criminal case.

If you think your Fourth Amendment rights were violated at any point during a search or seizure, this needs to be investigated. It could play an important part in your defense.

Source: FindLaw, ""Search and Seizure" and the Fourth Amendment," accessed Jan. 21, 2016

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