It can be both intimidating and confusing to learn that you are the subject of a criminal investigation. While law enforcement is looking into your activity, you may wonder what steps you can take to protect your interests. Even if you have not yet faced charges for a crime, it is still helpful to know what you can do that will allow you to shield your future against unnecessary complications and setbacks.
One of the most important rights available to you as someone who may be a suspect in a crime is the 4thAmendment to the United States Constitution. This protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. It is in your interests to know what this means for you, how to move forward if you experience a violation of your rights and what you can do to build the best possible defense strategy in the event you face criminal charges.
The 4th Amendment and you
This specific amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the United States government. In the most basic explanation of the amendment, this means that you have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home, vehicle and place of work. This means law enforcement cannot enter your property with a valid, legal reason to do so or consent from the owner. In many cases, this means police must obtain a search warrant to enter your home or search your property.
If police have a search warrant to search your home, that does not mean that they also have permission to search your vehicle or place of business. Warrants have limits in scope, and officers may only search the place specifically mentioned in the warrant. In order to obtain a search warrant, police must present probable cause to a judge who will then approve or deny the warrant request.
What if there is a violation of your rights?
You do not have to remain silent after experiencing a violation of your rights. If you believe that law enforcement violated your 4th Amendment rights, you can challenge the evidence against you gathered during an invalid search. When developing your defense strategy, it is helpful to carefully evaluate the entire case, including the actions of law enforcement, in order to determine if California police acted appropriately at all stages of the investigation.