The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provides specific protections for people against illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement officers. There are very specific requirements that officers have to follow when they are trying to search for evidence of a crime.
When an officer performs an illegal search, the evidence they seize during that search isn’t likely going to be admissible in court. It’s imperative to understand these points if you’re dealing with a case involving evidence that may have been collected in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
What happens if the Fourth Amendment is violated?
Typically, police officers need to have a warrant to conduct a search of someone’s car, dwelling or person — unless they have specific permission, instead. There are a few other instances in which they can conduct a search, such as if they’re arresting a person and need to search their person for weapons or other contraband.
The exclusionary rule prohibits prosecutors from introducing evidence in a case that’s been obtained illegally. If evidence was obtained in violation of the rules, the defense has the ability to challenge the evidence’s admissibility by filing a pre-trial motion. If the court allows the evidence to be included in the prosecution’s case and the defendant is convicted, the defense may file an appeal. This could result in a new trial, but it might also lead to the case being thrown out if the evidence was central to the conviction.
Understanding more about your rights can help you take a more active role in your own case. If you believe your Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the investigation against you, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your defense.