The Fourth Amendment is best known for its prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, including the requirement that police must have a warrant before performing a search or seizure, with some exceptions. In practice, however, what does this mean for you?
In general, the Fourth Amendment protects your privacy and prohibits a warrantless search. There are exceptions, however. First, if you consent to a search police can perform one. Second, police can pursue a warrantless search if it is a search incident to an arrest. Third, a warrantless search can be performed if there are exigent circumstances, such as imminent danger, the imminent destruction of evidence or imminent escape.
Also, a warrantless search and seizure can be performed if the items the police are looking to find are in plain sight or on an open field. That being said, individual states can always make rules that protect your Fourth Amendment rights. States cannot make rules that violate the Fourth Amendment.
What to do if your rights are violated
If you believe your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, you can pursue a “Bivens Action.” This means that if you can show your constitutional rights were violated by police acting under the color of law, you can prevail in the lawsuit. The burden of proof is on you to prove your case.
Protect your rights
If you know your rights, you can protect your rights. We would like to believe our rights will not be violated, but in reality, that does not always happen. If you have a grasp on your Fourth Amendment rights, you can pursue remedies if they are violated.