Arrest, Search & Seizure – Basics of The Fourth Amendment: Part 1
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Fourth Amendment required a police officer to get a warrant before he could enter a citizen’s house
With these fifty-four words, the Founding Fathers of our great Nation gave us the Fourth Amendment. This important part of the Constitution is one of the very best aspects of American law.
The need for the Fourth Amendment
The need for this law stemmed from the unjust intrusions that colonists endured when British soldiers would enter a home for no reason, search it, and perhaps seize the owner of the home - all without justification or privilege. So the Founding Fathers made sure that when we became a Nation, our police and government agents could not do the same thing to us.
In plain language, the Fourth Amendment required a police officer to get a warrant before he could enter a citizen’s house, seize them, or make an arrest. The warrant had to be signed by a neutral magistrate or judge, someone who had no real interest in what was going on. In this way the judge, or magistrate, could evaluate the need for the search or seizure, even denying the officer permission if necessary. All of this, of course, acted as a limit on what the government could do to ordinary citizens. The goal was to protect citizens in areas, like their homes, where they reasonably expected to have privacy.
This area of law has expanded over the years to create other general rules of law. Now, every time a police officer wants or needs to make an arrest, a warrant is not always necessary. But the officer must act with “probable cause” that the person they are arresting is committing a crime. They just can’t arrest citizens for any reason or no reason at all.
Before an officer can put handcuffs on a person and take them to jail, he or she must have a reasonable belief that the person committed a crime. The purpose of this rule is to keep police and government agents from interfering in the lives of law-abiding citizens.
The Fourth Amendment protects items such as fingerprints, blood, urine samples, fingernail and skin scrapings, voice and handwriting samples, conversations, and other evidence. Although a warrant is not always required before an officer can seize these kinds of things as evidence, the concept is the same as mentioned above: in order to get his or her hands on this kind of stuff, the officer must have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. Officers can’t just storm a citizen’s home and start flipping over the furniture to look for evidence of crime. In fact, where an officer comes to the door without a warrant and there is no emergency going on, a citizen is within their rights to deny the officer entry.
The DiCello Law Firm believes that when people are arrested for little or no reason, justice absolutely demands that they get compensated. The money won in these cases by The DiCello Law Firm gives the victims of unreasonable searches and seizures the ability to reclaim their Fourth Amendment Rights, pay for loss of work due to unjust incarceration or detention, and get compensation for the humiliation that comes with being locked up for no reason.
Do something about an unjust arrest or search. If you or someone you care about has been the victim of an unreasonable search or seizure, contact The DiCello Law Firm. Someone will get back to you and give you the help and advice you or your family member or friend deserve.