The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America is part of the original Bill of Rights. It has been in place since 1791. The intent of the Amendment is to protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement and other agents of the government.
The Fourth Amendment finds it origins during the Revolutionary War. The idea came about due to the actions of British tax collectors. These tax collectors would routinely enter the homes of law-abiding citizens using only a general warrant with no proof of wrong-doing. The Founding Fathers of the United States wanted to prevent this from ever happening again, thus the Fourth Amendment was born.
Search, as defined by the Fourth Amendment, is when an employee of the government looks at something that is reasonably considered private. An example of this would be something inside someone’s home. A person would have reasonable expectations that something placed inside their home would be considered private. Thus, the employee is not allowed to look at it without a proper search warrant.
For a legal search to take place, a police officer or other agent of the government must have a warrant signed by a judge. To obtain such a warrant, the officer must present evidence to the judge that a crime has taken place. If the judge agrees, a search warrant will be granted and signed. However, the officer is only able to look for items and search in places that are explicitly indicated in the search warrant.
There are some places where the Fourth Amendment does not apply. Some examples would be airports or at roadblocks set up to look for drunk drivers. Numerous courts have determined and made rulings that places such as these can not be considered private, therefore officers may search suspects without a warrant.
The Fourth Amendment is a very important piece of the United States Constitution. If one feels that their rights have been violated in conjunction with the Fourth Amendment, they should contact a reputable Houston attorney as soon as possible to determine a course of action to be taken and possible remediation.