In the U.S. Constitution, the Fourth Amendment protects our personal privacy
from unreasonable government intrusion. This applies the search and seizure
of property in our homes, businesses, pockets and bodies during drug-related
crime arrests and investigations. The Fourth Amendment provides protection
to people during police searches and arrests. It keeps officers from unlawfully
taking our property and unlawfully using it as evidence against us in
court. That said, the Fourth Amendment does not protect us when police
have a “reasonable” basis for searching and seizing our property
during a drug-related action.
The Fourth Amendment governs two primary areas. First, the amendment applies
to instances of search and seizure of people when police stop and/or arrest
them. Second, the amendment applies to instances of where police search
locations and items where a person has a legitimate reason to expect privacy.
For example, individuals can legitimately expect privacy of their person,
clothing, bags and handbags, vehicles, homes, hotel rooms and places of business.
Individuals can invoke their Fourth Amendment privacy rights when they
are stopped by police officers on the street, when they are pulled over
in their vehicles and when they are arrested. The Fourth Amendment also
protects individuals when police enter their homes, apartments or businesses
to arrest them and/or to search for criminal evidence. The Fourth Amendment
also applies in instances where police wish to seize an individual’s
property to place it under government control during a drug-related operation.
Police are only permitted to bypass an accused individual’s if they
have obtained a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant or if they
have probable cause to believe that the accused person committed a crime.
The more Baltimore residents know about their rights under the Fourth
Amendment, the better they will be able to determine when these rights
have been inappropriately and unreasonably violated.