Fourth Amendment Protection From Illegal Search And Seizure

- Lotze Mosley

At Lotze Mosley LLP, our criminal defense attorneys in Washington D.C. and in the State of Maryland want our clients to understand how the Constitution of the United States and its Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures by federal or state law enforcement authorities.

The protective rights require police officers to abide by the rules outlined in our Constitution, and when those rights are violated by government law officials, the evidence obtained during those searches may be excluded, so it cannot be used against you in the court of law. This is important in nearly every case, including those where drugs or weapons have been seized by the police.

Asserting Your Fourth Amendment Rights

The Fourth Amendment applies to your person, property, and home, and maintains that no warrant can be issued without probable cause, or a certain level of suspicion of criminal activity, and requires a judge or magistrates signed approval before the search is deemed legal.

The second part of the search warrant will describe the particulars of the area to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized as a result of the search.

The legality of the search depends on where the search occurs and varies greatly depending on your right to privacy in each of those areas, including:

  • Home
  • Person
  • Car
  • School
  • Workplace

The issue of a search’s legality begins with questions regarding the individual’s privacy. First, did the individual expect some degree of privacy in the searched location? And is their expectation objectively reasonable and recognizable to society?

As accomplished criminal defense attorneys in Washington D.C., Lotze Mosley LLP will test each aspect of your search to ensure any evidence that could incriminate you was obtained legally. When the search does not pass the legal test, our lawyers will move to have the evidence suppressed, so it cannot be included — or used against you — by the prosecutor.

Can Law Enforcement Search My Person, Property, Or Home Without A Warrant?

There are several instances where a search can legally occur without a warrant.

  • When an individual gives consent to the search
  • When there is an emergency situation, including police pursuit of a suspect who may have fled into private business or residence
  • When an individual has been arrested, officers may search the person and his/her surroundings for weapons to ensure there is no danger to the officers or the public
  • When evidence is visible in plain view where the police are legally authorized to be

How Can I Ensure My Rights Are Protected?

Police officers are trained to influence individuals into supplying too much information or agreeing to searches that they would have otherwise objected to during questioning, whether they have been stopped on foot, pulled over in their vehicle, or are approached in their own homes.

For that reason, it is important that you never consent to a search of your person, property, or home without a warrant, and that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been served with a search warrant or believe your rights have been violated.

If you are arrested, no matter the charge, you have the right to remain silent, and to obtain legal counsel before answering any questions the police, detectives, or investigators have. Use those rights to your benefit, and contact an attorney as soon as you are able. Once you invoke your right to an attorney, you can no longer be questioned, which may keep you from being negatively influenced into incriminating yourself.

Contact Our Experienced Washington D.C. And Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are the focus of a criminal investigation or believe that law enforcement has overstepped their legal abilities in obtaining information or evidence that will be detrimental to your case, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lotze Mosley LLP in Washington D.C. and Maryland today at (202) 759-7568 to learn how our lawyers can help protect your rights.