The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures by a law enforcement officer which means if an officer conducts an illegal search or seizure, civil action can be taken against the police department. The Fourth Amendment 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.” Generally, before an officer can conduct a search, they must first obtain a search warrant or have probable cause that suggests evidence of a crime is present, according to the Legal Information Institute.
Although the law clearly states that law enforcement officers are not permitted to conduct unlawful searches and seizures without a warrant or probable cause, it doesn’t necessarily stop certain police officers from engaging in the illegal act.
To what extent does the fourth amendment protect an individual?
To better understand how the Fourth Amendment protects an individual from an unlawful search and seizure, the location of the search must be taken into account. If an individual is at home, a search and seizure inside the home “without a warrant [is] presumptively unreasonable,” according to the United States Courts. However, law enforcement officers may conduct a warrantless search if:
- The officer is given consent to search the premises.
- If the officer is making a lawful arrest.
- If the officer has probable cause to search the premises.
- Illegal items are in plain view.
When a Person is Walking
If a police officer witnessed “unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude that criminal activity may be afoot,” the officer is then permitted to “briefly stop” the person and “make reasonable inquiries aimed at confirming or dispelling the officer’s suspicions.”
When an Individual is in Their Vehicle
If a law enforcement officer believes that a vehicle contains evidence of a criminal activity, they may search any area of the vehicle where the evidence may be located.
Suing a Colorado Police Department for a Violation of a Civilian’s Fourth Amendment Rights
Proving an officer of the law violated a person’s Fourth Amendment rights can be challenging as there are many exceptions an officer can use to justify his/her actions. But, if an individual believes his/her Fourth Amendment rights were violated by a police officer in Colorado and wish to hold the officer and/or their department accountable for the act of misconduct, they can contact Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC for legal help. If an individual has a valid claim against a department, a Colorado police brutality lawyer can determine if he/she is entitled to recover damages for the injuries and losses they suffered.
Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC can be reached at:
333 W. Hampden Avenue, #420B
Englewood, CO 80110