You should be able to trust that the directions given to you by Washington law enforcement during any type of investigation or interaction are appropriate and legal. You should also be able to trust that the actions taken by police during an investigation are above board and within the scope of their authority. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and this is why it is helpful to understand your constitutional rights.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. This means that there are limits to when and how police can stop you and conduct a search of your person or property. If you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure, you could have grounds to challenge the case against you or even pursue legal action. You do not have to remain silent if you experienced a violation of your rights.
How does the 4th Amendment apply to you?
Your 4th Amendment rights will be especially important in the event that you are under suspicion for criminal activity or during any type of interaction with law enforcement. Situations in which this specific protection applies to you include the following:
- The police stop you while walking down the street in order to question you.
- Police pulled you over for a traffic infraction, and the officer searches the trunk.
- Police enter an apartment or home to search for evidence of a crime.
- The police enter a personal residence to place someone under arrest.
- Law enforcement officers confiscate property, such as a vehicle, and place it under police custody.
In order to enter your home, search your personal property or take you into police custody, law enforcement must have a valid reason to do so. In most cases, this means having a search warrant, arrest warrant or reason to have probable cause.
After a violation of your rights
If you are able to prove that you were subject to an invalid arrest, search or seizure, the prosecution cannot use that evidence against you. You have the right to challenge any evidence derived from an illegal procedure during your interaction with law enforcement. A violation of your rights is unacceptable, but a careful assessment of your case and an understanding of your 4th Amendment rights can help you understand how you can defend your interests and personal freedom.