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Your rights when it comes to search and seizure

We’ve all seen movies and television shows where police officers go crashing into a criminal’s home. These dramatized depictions often feature SWAT teams, battering rams and tactical weaponry and gear. While the scenes have some basis in reality, law enforcement officials can’t just come barging into your home without probable cause.

Officers need a warrant or permission to enter your home, even if they suspect you of committing a crime. It’s a protection afforded everyone in the United States.

The Fourth Amendment

The United States Constitution affords everyone protection from search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, which reads:

“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.”

While the amendment has been interpreted in different ways by the courts, the general outline is that it protects individuals from arbitrary or unreasonable arrest, stop-and-frisk, wiretaps and other forms of surveillance. It is also the basis for search warrant laws.

What you should know about your rights

It’s unlikely that a SWAT team will come bursting through your door. However, officers may come to your home if you are suspected of a crime. This often happens in drug cases if they believe you are in possession of, or manufacturing an illegal substance.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know your rights.. If officers perform an illegal search without probable cause, it will be an integral part of your case if charges are pursued against you.

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