The Fourth Amendment constitutionally limits what law enforcement may do and the actions a police officer may take when attempting to gather evidence to use against you in a criminal proceeding. This is the amendment that addresses issues of search and seizure. The United States Constitution prohibits law enforcement from forcing their way into your home or onto your property to look for evidence, or to take anything they find suspicious, unless certain conditions are met.
One pivotal aspect of the Fourth Amendment is that it does not apply to most public places. The law says that if you’re in a public place, you’ve automatically given up your right to privacy. A law enforcement officer can search you and take whatever he finds in your possession. Likewise, if you leave something in plain view, you’ve given up your right to privacy regarding that object or evidence. This might be the case if you’re stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence and you’ve got an open bottle of vodka in your lap at the time. You’ve placed it somewhere where it is clearly visible, so the arresting officer can use that against you.
If the arresting officer violates the provisions of your Fourth Amendment rights in some way, you need a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Any evidence he gathered is probably inadmissible in court if he violated your rights when gathering it. If you’re not a lawyer, you may not know that, so you should never take the chance of representing yourself. If you’re not a lawyer, you may not know the proper arguments to make to the court to have the evidence thrown out.
The attorneys at Katz & Phillips are intimately familiar with all the nuances of your Fourth Amendment rights and we’ll fight determinedly to make sure they’re not violated in court. We can use them to potentially keep you out of court if the only evidence against you breaks the legalities of the Fourth Amendment’s rules. If you have questions about how law enforcement collected evidence against you, call us today so we can review your case and let you know where you stand.