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Search and seizure protections under the Fourth Amendment

Search and seizure protections under the Fourth Amendment

In the U.S. Constitution, the Fourth Amendment protects our personal privacy from unreasonable government intrusion. This applies the search and seizure of property in our homes, businesses, pockets and bodies during drug-related crime arrests and investigations. The Fourth Amendment provides protection to people during police searches and arrests. It keeps officers from unlawfully taking our property and unlawfully using it as evidence against us in court. That said, the Fourth Amendment does not protect us when police have a “reasonable” basis for searching and seizing our property during a drug-related action.

The Fourth Amendment governs two primary areas. First, the amendment applies to instances of search and seizure of people when police stop and/or arrest them. Second, the amendment applies to instances of where police search locations and items where a person has a legitimate reason to expect privacy. For example, individuals can legitimately expect privacy of their person, clothing, bags and handbags, vehicles, homes, hotel rooms and places of business.

Individuals can invoke their Fourth Amendment privacy rights when they are stopped by police officers on the street, when they are pulled over in their vehicles and when they are arrested. The Fourth Amendment also protects individuals when police enter their homes, apartments or businesses to arrest them and/or to search for criminal evidence. The Fourth Amendment also applies in instances where police wish to seize an individual’s property to place it under government control during a drug-related operation.

Police are only permitted to bypass an accused individual’s if they have obtained a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant or if they have probable cause to believe that the accused person committed a crime. The more Baltimore residents know about their rights under the Fourth Amendment, the better they will be able to determine when these rights have been inappropriately and unreasonably violated.

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