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Do you understand your Fourth Amendment rights?

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2022 | Federal Crimes |

It can be incredibly overwhelming to face questioning by law enforcement, especially when under investigation for alleged criminal activity. It is important for each individual to know and understand his or her constitutional rights, including the right to protection against illegal searches and seizures as outlined by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. You have the right to privacy, and there are limits to what law enforcement can do when investigating suspected crime.

You have protection against unreasonable government intrusion in your life. New Jersey law enforcement can only conduct a search of your person or property in specific circumstances. If you are under investigation or already charged with a crime, it may be in your interests to carefully evaluate your circumstances in order to determine if you experienced a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.

The application of the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment applies in situations in which law enforcement would want to detain you, question you or search your personal property. The legal standards of this specific amendment apply in the following circumstances:

  • Law enforcement stopped you for questioning while you were walking down the street.
  • Police pulled you over for a traffic violation, but an officer also searched your vehicle.
  • Officers entered your home to search for evidence of criminal activity.
  • Police came to your home in order to place you under arrest.
  • Law enforcement entered a place of business in order to conduct a search.
  • Police want to confiscate your vehicle or place other types of personal property under police control.

In order to conduct a search, detain you or take you into custody, police must have a valid arrest warrant, a valid search warrant or probable cause that a crime has taken place. If there was a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, it could compromise the entire case against you or invalidate the evidence collected during the illegal search.

Defending your interests

You do not have to remain silent after a violation of your constitutional rights. If law enforcement illegally detained you or conducted an invalid search of your property, you have grounds to challenge the prosecution’s case. A careful look at the actions of police and other aspects of your interactions with law enforcement could help you identify the most effective defense strategy for your unique situation.