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What Are Your 4th Amendment Rights?

By Carlos Gamino

The United States Constitution guarantees you certain rights – and many of them are outlined in amendments. One of the most important amendments, at least in the field of criminal law, is the fourth one. The 4th Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. But what does that mean, and how can it help you if you’re accused of a crime?

What Are Your 4th Amendment Rights?

Amendment IV to the U.S. Constitution says, “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.”

Here’s what that means to people charged in criminal cases: Any evidence that investigators obtained while violating the defendant’s 4th Amendment rights must be excluded from criminal proceedings.

Related: Do you have rights when the police pull you over?

If police unlawfully searched and found something that they later used to charge you with a crime, or that prosecutors used to convict you, the evidence that they found while unlawfully searching can’t be used against you in court. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but many attorneys are able to successfully argue that the evidence was obtained unlawfully.

What’s an Example of a Violation of 4th Amendment Rights?

There are several examples of violations of 4th Amendment rights – here’s just one:

Bianca is pulled over by for speeding. The police don’t have any reason to believe that she’s been drinking or using drugs, but they tell her to step out of her car and proceed to search it without her consent. They find a prescription drug bottle in the trunk that doesn’t belong to her and charge her with drug possession.

The police didn’t have probable cause to believe Bianca was committing a crime that had to do with drugs. They didn’t have a warrant, and Bianca didn’t consent to the search. There’s a chance that, if it comes to it, Bianca’s attorney will argue that the police violated her 4th Amendment rights in obtaining the evidence.

Related: 4 things you need to know about illegal police searches

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Your 4th Amendment Rights?

If you believe your 4th Amendment rights were violated, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced professional. We can give you the answers you’re looking for.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-05-20T21:11:47-05:00February 20th, 2022|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Are Your 4th Amendment Rights?

4 Things You Need to Know about Illegal Police Searches

4 Things You Need to Know About Illegal Police Searches - Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorneys

When it comes to illegal searches, Wisconsin laws (and federal laws, for that matter) can be very confusing. For example, can you tell police that you don’t consent to a search? Further, how do you know if a search that the police are performing is legal or illegal?

As Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys, we deal with questions like these all the time. So what do you know about illegal police searches?

When Police Are Allowed to Search

If you’re arrested, the police are allowed to search you. In fact, they have to search you to make sure you aren’t carrying weapons; if, during that time, they find that you have drugs or something that you’re not supposed to have, they can use it against you later.

Police can also search your vehicle if you’re pulled over for, say, running a red light – but the catch is that they have to see something illegal in plain sight. If you have “roaches” in your cup holder, a weapon on your passenger seat, or stolen property sitting on your back seat, you can expect the police to conduct a legal search of your vehicle. They can also search you if they’re reasonably certain that you are involved in a crime.

If you give police your consent, they can search anything they want to. For example, if police ask you to let them into your home to look around, or if they ask you to pop your trunk and you say yes, they’re allowed to search.

Finally, in many cases (but not all), a police search is legal if the police feel that it’s necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, serious danger to property, or to stop the destruction of evidence.

When Police Are Not Allowed to Search

Illegal searches violate your Fourth Amendment rights; the Constitution essentially guarantees that you’re safe from living under the iron fist of a police state. Police can’t just stop anyone on the street and do a pat-down; they can’t just burst into your home, uninvited, and start digging through your belongings.

If a police officer asks for your consent to search anything, including your home, your vehicle or your person, you do not have to say yes. You have the right to demand that they produce a warrant signed by a judge. If police have searched you or your property, and you’re not sure it was legal, call a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer right away – there may still be a way to protect your rights if they were initially violated by police.

By |2021-08-07T17:38:01-05:00November 17th, 2019|Criminal Law|Comments Off on 4 Things You Need to Know about Illegal Police Searches

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