Different Types of “Searches” and Whether They Are “Unreasonable”
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Fourth Amendment was enacted to impose certain limitations on law enforcement investigating a crime. Therefore, the 4th Amendment prevents the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial and can sometimes lead to a criminal case being dismissed. The extent to which an individual is protected by the Fourth Amendment depends, in part, on the location of the search or seizure.
Home* Searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980).
Some exceptions do apply. A search without a warrant may be lawful:
* If an officer is given consent to search; Davis v. United States, 328 U.S. 582 (1946)
* If the search is incident to a lawful arrest; United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973)
* If the items are in plain view; Maryland v. Macon, 472 U.S. 463 (1985).
Person* An officer may detain an individual for a brief amount of time if that officer has a reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)
School* School officials do not need to obtain a warrant before searching a student who is under their authority; rather, a search of a student need only be reasonable under all the circumstances. New Jersey v. TLO, 469 U.S. 325 (1985)
Car* Where there is probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains evidence of a criminal activity, an officer may lawfully search any area of the vehicle in which the evidence might be found.
Arizona v. Gant, 129 S. Ct. 1710 (2009)
* An officer may conduct a traffic stop if he has reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has occurred or that criminal activity is afoot. Berekmer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420 (1984), United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266 (2002).
* An officer may conduct a pat-down of the driver and passengers during a lawful traffic stop; the police need not believe that any occupant of the vehicle is involved in a criminal activity. Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (2009).
ConclusionThese are just a few examples of searches protected by the 4th Amendment. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime, and you think your constitutional rights were violated, it is important that you speak with experience attorneys such as Anthony Bruno & Peter Schoenthal.