(RepublicanNews.org) – One of the most fundamental rights a person has in the US, is the protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The Founding Fathers created the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution to shield Americans from just that. But what exactly does that mean?
Can They Search?
“Unreasonable” is the keyword when it comes to these protections. This means police officers can’t just search your house or your car because they don’t like a bumper sticker you’re displaying. They also don’t have the authority to just break down your door because they have a gut feeling you might be hiding something in your home.
However, if a police officer approaches your vehicle in a traffic stop and he smells marijuana, that’s probable cause a crime has been committed and he can conduct a search.
Law enforcement can also enter your home if they have a warrant signed by a judge. Even then, however, their authority is limited.
In Plain Sight
When police officers obtain a search warrant, they have to explain in great detail what they’re looking for in a home. When they conduct the operation, the cops may only seize what’s described in the court order, unless they see evidence in plain sight.
What does that mean?
If law enforcement searches your home because they’re investigating a murder, and upon entering, they see a pair of bloody shorts on the sofa, they can take that item of clothing even if it’s not in the warrant. Since the clothes were in plain view and immediately identifiable, they’re fair game.
However, if the police enter your house and those same shorts are inside a container on the table and the officers can’t see them, they may not seize the container and look for unlisted evidence within.
Police Can Enter Your Home Without a Warrant
There’s one circumstance that allows the police to enter your home without a search warrant. If there’s an emergency situation, and no time to get a judge’s approval, law enforcement has the right to enter.
For example, if they walk past your residence and hear blood-curdling screams of help coming from within, the police may enter. Also, if they see you trying to hide drugs or weapons through the window, they can go inside to prevent you from destroying evidence.
What to Do During a Search
If the police knock on your door to search your home follow these steps.
- Ask to see the warrant
- Call a lawyer
- Record the search
- You may leave if you’re not being detained
- Police do not have the right to destroy your property, if they do take photos or video
Remember, the Constitution is on your side. Don’t be afraid to stand up and protect your rights.
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