4th Amendment rights
Individual rights under the Fourth Amendment can make or break a case in trial. According to the Fourth Amendment, “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.” This is a United States citizens Fourth Amendment right equally protected to all. This protects the people from the State and Federal Governments within their privacy. The Fourth Amendment also advises that a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) must have probable cause before seeking a warrant. Probable cause is when there are enough facts, or totality of the circumstances, that a crime has happened. The LEO if seeking for a search warrant must state in the warrant what it is they will be searching for. For example, if an LEO seeks a search warrant for stolen property; the LEO must only check items in the house which could be stolen; i.e. televisions, computers, vehicles etc. The LEO checking a thumb drive, not putting on the warrant to check that equipment, which contains child pornography, would be an illegal search and seizure. Unfortunately, the defendant in this situation would have the evidence suppressed due to the illegal search.
The Fourth Amendment right also allows for warrantless searches for LEO’s. A warrantless search is granted when probable cause is met for a lawful arrest or if there is exigent circumstances which arise. Exigent circumstances are when a LEO must react immediately due to the defendant’s actions; like destroying evidence. If a LEO has probable cause to arrest someone, then the LEO has the authority to conduct a warrantless search of their persons for illegal contraband. Another example, if a LEO conducts a lawful traffic stop and upon approach has the plain smell of an
References: Ingram, Jefferson L. (Ed. 2). Criminal Procedure: Theory and Practice. Columbus, Ohio: Pearson.