Recent articles make the reader feel that this Amendment is among those least understood in terms of its scope of protecting the rights of citizens. Perhaps the phrase “unreasonable searches and seizures” must stand alongside the more familiar phrase “probable cause.” As the means of defining just how broadly this Amendment protects individual citizens.
Throughout history, there have always been times when the public finds itself in fear of some sort of “power”- whether military or police. Even today, in the 21st century, thanks to the clarity of this particular article, one can understand that (T)he fourth Amendment places limits on the power of the police to make arrests, search people and their property, and seize objects…” (“Fourth Amendment”. 2009 p. 1).
Some articles, however, do make it obvious that reasonable searches are permitted and legal. The author explains what “reasonable” implies, including when “police have probable cause to believe they can find evidence that you committed a crime and a judger has issued a search warrant…” (“Fourth Amendment” 2009, p. 2).
Because the average citizen does not always understand the completeness and scope of the Amendments to the Constitution, in this case, the author(s) provide specific examples from Supreme Court decisions- decisions which are the final judgment of any disputes. The evidence also supports the fact that since 1949, according to a Supreme Court ruling, the parameters of the Fourth Amendment’s rights apply to state courts not just to Federal courts.
One specific article provides some specific examples of protection under the law and what may not be protected. For example, “what a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection” (p. 2) but if the person considers something private, even if it seems visible and exposed to the public, then the Amendment covers it. The article provides some very specific examples which are important for full comprehension of this Amendment’s rights and limitations. There is a reasonable expectation of rights to privacy on a person’s body or clothing, but the author(s) also point out that a business owner has less rights to privacy on commercial property.
What makes the overall scope of examples and details of this article so useful to the average citizen/reader is that it provides far more explicit details of what is protected and why, with examples and results of legal actions. There is a very useful section concerning warrants and how they need to be obtained in order to both protect law enforcement and the rights of the private citizen.
What about probable cause without a warrant? The article explains that there are specific rules and regulations regarding arrests. The Fourth Amendment, according to the article “authorizes arrests only if the police have ‘probable cause’ to believe that a crime was committed and that the suspect did it” (p.7). The author(s) also point out that often the Courts can make some exceptions about the rights of privacy in such instances as felony arrests in public where the police have likely proof that the person arrested committed a crime.
One also learns about the “exclusionary rule” of the Amendment which makes use of evidence not properly or legally obtained inadmissible in courts. Also, there is a curious phrase: “fruit of the poisonous tree”: “The ‘tree’ is the evidence that the police illegally size in the fist place; the ‘fruit’ is the second generation product of the illegally seized evidence” (p. 11).
This article is not an “opinion piece.” It is factual, including court proceedings and judgments rendered by the country’s final arbiter, the U.S. Supreme Court. Frankly, with so many :crime dramas” on television, the public sometimes feels it “knows” the facts, but this article is a far more factual, unbiased, informative and realistic explanation of just what the Fourth Amendment provides as protection for both law enforcement and the private citizens.
“Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” (2009):
Findlaw and Nolo Press, on www.Findlaw.com