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Is Private Property Really Private?


In short, the fourth amendment delineates your right to privacy. But what happens when law enforcement needs to breach personal privacy for an investigation? Without a warrant, police cannot search and seize your property unless you give permission (with the exception of rare situations). Any violation of this amendment is not only an invasion of your privacy but also a breach of the U.S. Constitution, which means that victims have a right to take legal action.

When Can Law Enforcement Search and Seize Your Personal Property?

Law enforcement has access to your personal property under only three circumstances:

  • They have a valid arrest warrant
  • They have a valid search warrant
  • They have probable cause to believe you committed a crime

The Fourth Amendment applies to situations where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in your own home. Under normal circumstances, law enforcement cannot enter and search your home for evidence unless you allow them. This standard applies to a myriad of situations, many of which are not simple or obvious.

When Police Violate Your Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful search and seizure under the following situations and others like them:

  • Police enter your house or apartment to place you under arrest
  • Police stop you for questioning as you’re walking down the street
  • Police conduct a traffic stop and then ask to search your vehicle
  • Police confiscate your personal property as evidence in a case

Without probable cause or a warrant, these actions violate your rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Have Your Rights Been Violated in New York, New Jersey, & New Hampshire?

If you believe that law enforcement violated your civil rights, contact a New York civil rights attorney at Horn Wright, LLP. We are committed to taking a stand against unlawful search and seizure and want to help you fight for your rights in court. To learn more, speak with a New York civil rights lawyer at our firm today. Your first consultation is free, so don’t wait to fill out our online case evaluation form and we will be in touch with you soon.