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The Fourth Amendment protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. This can include searches of your home or property, your person, your place of business, or your vehicle. There are different standards for what makes a “reasonable” search or seizure for each of these circumstances.

The Fourth Amendment also prevents police and other officials from using excessive force during an arrest or investigation.

The Fourth Amendment: How Does it Work?

When it comes to your home or property, the Fourth Amendment prevents government officials from entering, looking around, or taking evidence without having a warrant to do so.

There are exceptions to this rule. An officer can legally enter your property without a warrant if:
  • You give consent for the search to occur.
  • You’re under arrest, and the officer must search you and the surrounding area for the purposes of safety, prevention of escape, or preservation of evidence.
  • The officer decides there is probable cause.
  • Illegal items are in plain view.
The Fourth Amendment also protects your vehicle. The protection isn't as solid as it is for your home. A judge won't issue a warrant to search a home without good reason, and it's unusual for an officer to determine there's probable cause for a search when standing outside.

For a vehicle, determining probable cause is easier. If you seem like you might be under the influence, that's often enough. The officer could spot something through the window or notice the scent of alcohol or drugs. In some cases, they will use dogs trained in narcotic detection to provide probable cause.

If an officer pulls you over and searches your vehicle without probable cause, they've violated your rights.

Fourth Amendment Violations: Help From Smith & Vinson

If officials discovered evidence while carrying out an unlawful search, prosecutors won't be able to use that evidence to convict. For this reason, most law enforcement officials are cautious about performing searches without a warrant. Always remember that you have the right to an attorney. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself!

Do you believe law enforcement officials violated the Fourth Amendment when they searched your home or seized your property? Did officers use excessive force during your arrest? If so, you need an attorney who will fight for your constitutional rights.

Smith & Vinson are the Austin attorneys who can provide the aggressive representation you need. Our team includes experienced defense attorneys as well as former prosecutors, so we know the law from both sides of the table. We’re prepared to defend your constitutional rights and ensure you have a good outcome. Please contact us now to set up your consultation.
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