Understanding Fourth Amendment Violations

Representing Clients In Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee County, and all over the State of Michigan.


When you’re suspected of a crime or accused of one, the U.S. Constitution gives you important rights. To build a strong defense, it’s crucial to protect these rights and use them wisely. One key right is your protection against illegal searches and seizures.

Illegal search and seizure, a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, is a serious concern that can impact anyone. At Duplessis Law, we recognize the importance of safeguarding your constitutional rights. Let’s delve into the details of the Fourth Amendment to empower you with knowledge and ensure you’re aware of your rights.

What is the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a crucial safeguard against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It ensures your right to privacy, emphasizing that searches and seizures must be reasonable and conducted with a warrant or under recognized exceptions.

Exceptions to When the Police Can Search or Seize Without a Warrant

Certain situations allow the police to search and seize property without needing a warrant. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Lawful arrest: When you’re being arrested for a crime, the police don’t need a search warrant to search you, as it’s part of the arrest process.
  • Plain view: If your property is left out in plain view, you’re not considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, if you leave a gun or a bag of marijuana on the seat of your vehicle and get stopped, the police might be able to seize it without a search warrant.
  • Consent: If you agree to a search, which surprisingly many people do, you waive your protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Legitimate traffic stop: During a lawful traffic stop, if the police have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or property obtained in a crime, a search warrant isn’t required.

Does the Fourth Amendment Protect Against Excessive Force?

Absolutely. The Fourth Amendment shields you not only from unwarranted searches but also from excessive force during encounters with law enforcement. Officers are expected to use force reasonably, and any excess may violate your constitutional rights.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents the use of too much force during an arrest, investigatory stop, or any other seizure. Excessive force from a law enforcement officer is force that is objectively not needed given the situation. Generally, officers are trained to understand that using unnecessary force is also considered unreasonable. 

Whether an officer’s specific use of force is deemed unreasonable or excessive is determined by weighing the type and amount of force used against the legitimate need for that force. 

Everyone in the United States, regardless of citizenship, has the right to be protected from the use of excessive force by police and other law enforcement officers.

What if Police Trespass Into Your Property?

The Fourth Amendment extends its protection to your home and personal space. If law enforcement enters your property without proper authorization, it constitutes a violation. Your home is your castle, and the Fourth Amendment defends your right to privacy within its walls.

How Does the Fourth Amendment Protect You During Traffic Stops?

Even during routine traffic stops, the Fourth Amendment is in effect. While officers have the authority to stop you for violations, they must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Unjustified searches during traffic stops can breach your Fourth Amendment rights.

What Remedies Are Available for a Violation of the Fourth Amendment?

If your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, there are legal remedies. Violations of your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures can serve as a strong defense against the charges you are facing. This can lead to the following outcomes:

  • Exclusionary rule. Any evidence seized during an illegal search may be deemed inadmissible in your criminal case, according to the exclusionary rule. If the seized item was crucial evidence needed to establish your guilt, this may lead to the dismissal of the criminal charges against you.
  • Fruit of the poisonous tree. Following the doctrine of the fruit of the poisonous tree, any other evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful search and seizure, even if acquired later, cannot be used against you in court. Once again, this can be a potent strategy to deprive the prosecutor of evidence required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, even if you are aware of your guilt.

If you’re harmed or experience losses during an illegal search and seizure, you can also get compensation for your losses through a civil rights case. If you win your civil rights case in court, the officers or government might also have to pay for your lawyer’s fees. But, in civil rights cases, you can’t use the lawsuit to send the officers or any involved government officials to jail. Only a District Attorney or government prosecutor can do that.

Duplessis Law: Defending Your Rights

At Duplessis Law, we understand the profound impact Fourth Amendment violations can have on your life. Our team is dedicated to protecting your rights and providing a robust defense. If you believe your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your voice deserves to be heard, and we are here to ensure justice prevails.

If you find yourself in a situation where your Fourth Amendment rights have been compromised, remember that you don’t have to face it alone. Contact Duplessis Law for a confidential consultation, and let us take the necessary steps to protect your future. Your rights matter, and we are committed to fighting for them.