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Learn more about your Fourth Amendment rights

You were driving and had to swerve suddenly in the road. You nearly got into an accident, but after correcting your vehicle, you were able to get back into your lane and continue without any further problems.

The only issue is that a police officer saw your unusual maneuver and decided to pull you over. They told you it was for reckless driving and wanted to guarantee that you were safe to drive.

You may have heard about people having their Fourth Amendment rights violated. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that people have a right to be secure in their persons. The Fourth Amendment guarantees protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

It also contains verbiage that guarantees that no warrants can be issued unless there is probable cause that is supported by evidence. If a warrant is issued, it then has to state exactly what or who is to be searched and which items or which person can be taken into custody by the authorities.

Is it possible to perform a search without a warrant?

Yes, it is. There are times when there can be valid searches and seizures without the need for a warrant. These are typically exceptional situations in which probable cause requires immediate action.

For example, the courts allow police officers to stop someone and place them in custody without a warrant if they have probable cause to do so and witnessed the person commit a crime in their presence.

Police officers may also search a vehicle or take an item in plain sight. For instance, if you're stopped by police and there is a baggie of cocaine on your front seat, the officer would be within their rights to not only seize the baggie but also test it and submit it as evidence. They could, additionally, search your vehicle due to having probable cause from the item they collected from you. Keep in mind that the original traffic stop must have been legitimate for the evidence to be collected legally.

If you have been stopped by the police or have had your home searched and don't believe that the police had probable cause or that they did not have a valid warrant, it's important to look into your legal options. Your attorney will help you protect your Fourth Amendment rights.

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