The Fourth Amendment is part of the United States Constitution. It protects citizens from unlawful situations and offers guidelines that must be followed in the criminal justice system. The Fourth Amendment allows people to be safe in their homes and their personal belongings to secure as well. This means that a person should be able to do as they please in their home without the legal system coming into the home.
If a warrant is issued and signed by a Judge, then this gives the authority the right to enter a person’s home and search for items. “The only way a warrant can be issued is if there is enough probable cause to establish a reason” . When the warrant is issued at the home the police can go into the home and search for items that they feel are inside the home. They can only take items on the list or of important nature to the crime. This does not mean the police can take items for personal use or money that is left lying around. The only way money can be taken is if it is an asset to the case. This would include money that was obtained by selling drugs or illegal weapons. Then the money would be confiscated by law enforcement and put into evidence for future use in court.
Law enforcement can’t go up to a random home and kick the door in. Nor can they enter that residence without a warrant allowing them to do so. If the police were to enter a home without a warrant, then this would be violating the homeowners Fourth Amendment rights. The officers would be in violation of the Constitution and could be fired or face serious repercussions. The Constitution was put in place for legal reasons and to protect people of society from violations. The legal authority is to uphold these laws and be considerate of individual rights. They should not change the law of their own accord, and it is not in the best interest to purposely disregard it.
If an officer wants to enter your residence it is always a good idea to ask to see the warrant. If the officer does not have a warrant, then you can tell them to get one. This is the right of the citizen and it’s acceptable under the Constitution.
The process of obtaining a warrant can be time-consuming. The officers would have to produce enough evidence that would allow a warrant to be issued. The evidence should contain probable cause or suspicion of activity against the resident. The probable cause would insinuate that a crime has been committed, is going to be committed, or is in progress for a future crime. The evidence submitted to the Judge can be information gathered from civilians in the community, investigators, statements taken from those close to the suspect, and surveillance information obtained by police work.
The probable cause should be enough evidence for the Judge to see the extent of the crime or the suspect taking part in a crime setting. The evidence could be listed on the warrant that the officers want to obtain, to prove the crime had occurred. The evidence could be to prove or stop a crime from occurring in the near future. When evidence is listed on the warrant it is important or those items to be taken and nothing else. Taking items that the warrant is not issued for could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. “The Fourth Amendment protects the citizen from illegal or unauthorized search and seizure of items in their home” . If an item is taken into evidence that was not listed, then the citizen could file a complaint.
The officers know that it takes substantial evidence to be able to obtain a warrant. It is up the officers who serve the warrant to follow all the proper guidelines and laws that apply. If the laws are broken during the process of a warrant search and seizure, then the evidence taken could be thrown out of court. The case could be dismissed and the crime that the officers had been working would be disregarded. This could cause an active criminal to be free, and now be more knowledgeable about law enforcement.
There are certain situations where a warrant is not needed for police to enter a residence. These reasons hold up in the court of law and are excused in most circumstances. The first circumstance that allows a warrantless search is for the person to give consent. If the individual agrees to allow police to search their home or items, then a warrant is not needed. When this instance occurs, it is not liable for the police to explain that you can refuse to allow the officers to search. People who do not know this might agree to the search. IF the officers find something that would be considered evidence, that person could become arrested and charged.
The second scenario is if the police see you doing something that is not legal from outside your home, they can search your home and confiscate the illegal evidence. There has to be solid probable cause that what you have in your possession is something illegal. If the officers conducted a warrantless search of your home, but found nothing illegal, this could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights. “This is known as the Plain View Doctrine” .
A warrant is not needed when a person is arrested. The police are allowed to search your property, car and you to ensure they are safe. If the police find any incriminating evidence, it can be used against you. They do not need a warrant when a person is being put under arrest. If law enforcement needs to enter a home quicker than it would take to get a warrant they may do so depending on certain scenarios. If the evidence that police need is getting destroyed, if someone is being violently harmed, or if a person is going to get away, then a warrantless entry can be performed. If a warrantless search has occurred, but none of the reasons was present, it would be a violation of the persons’ Constitutional rights as a citizen. Police cannot just go to a person’s home and start looking around. They need to have one of the scenario’s present or have a search warrant.
The police are allowed to search the home for other injured people or for criminals who could still be on the premises. When officers are looking around for more suspects or victims, they can collect evidence related to the crime. Any evidence they see at the crime scene; they can seize the items for an investigation into the homicide. The warrant is out of the picture when a homicide has occurred inside a home. This gives the police enough reason to search and collect evidence after a crime has occurred. Ms. Ellis had invited them into her home when she called for help. Therefore, there is no need for a warrant based on those two scenarios. The officers can take any evidence they want as long as it is involving the crime that had occurred.
The Fourth Amendment has a lot of rules and guidelines concerning the rights of people. They also offer rights to officers, but is merely protecting citizens from the law. The law is to follow these guidelines to maintain the law properly. It is important for a person to understand their rights under the Fourth Amendment. Knowing the guidelines for a search and seizure is important. It is important to know the exceptions to the warrantless searches. This will educate a person to know if they’re being searched legal by law enforcement.
Berman, S. J. (2016). How Officers Obtain Search Warrants. Search Warrants and Probable Cause, 1-4.
Hentoff, N. (2016). Amendment IV: Searches, Seizures, and Warrants. The Rutherford Institute, 1-3.
Morrow, S. (2010). Know Your Rights: Can You be Searched Without a Warrant? Legal , 1-5.