Carl e. CornwellAttorney at law

How to know if your Fourth Amendment rights are violated

Let's say you're sitting at home one evening and there's a knock at your door. You look out the window and notice several people who appear to be uniformed police officers standing on your front porch. You open the door part way and greet them. They ask if you mind if they come inside and take a look around. You immediately feel nervous and worried as to what their motive might be for wanting to search your home.

If you deny the officers' request and they enter anyway without first obtaining a valid search warrant, you have a serious legal problem on your hands. If you do allow the officers inside your home and they wind up taking items away and charging you with a drug crime, things may get a lot worse before they get better. However, many Kansas residents are able to avoid conviction by challenging search and seizure or arrest processes officers implemented as being in violation of their rights.

Important facts about the Fourth Amendment

Not every type of situation would be potential for Fourth Amendment violations regarding investigations. For instance, if someone hires a private investigator, this is not governed by Fourth Amendment laws. Determining whether you have grounds to challenge a police officer's actions in court can be tricky. The following information may help bring clarity to your situation:

  • In order for an investigation, search, seizure, etc. to infringe upon your Fourth Amendment rights, you must have been in a situation to start with where you expected privacy.
  • To assert your Fourth Amendment rights, the process employed against you (search, seizure, questioning, arrest, etc.) must have taken place in conjunction with a government action of some sort.
  • The doctrine of incorporation means that being at both a federal and state level protects your rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled as such in 1949.
  • Your body, clothing, home, immediate home surroundings and personal belongings are examples of things you can reasonably expect to keep private.
  • A police officer has not legally invaded your privacy by requesting samples of your DNA, breath, blood or hair.

If you're unsure whether an officer has violated your Fourth Amendment rights when rummaging through your car or personal belongings in your home, you can ask someone who is well-versed in the Bill of Rights, as well as criminal law. When police charge you with a drug crime or any other criminal wrongdoing, it does not necessarily mean a conviction for you.

If you believe it is necessary to warrant an official challenge of evidence or procedure, you may want to follow in the footsteps of those who ask experienced attorneys to represent them in court. This is usually the best means for bringing swift attention to a judge regarding a particular matter and can also increase your chances of securing a favorable solution to your particular problem.

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Carl E. Cornwell Attorney At Law
142 North Cherry Street, Suite 100
Olathe, KS 66061

Phone: 913-712-0459
Fax: 913-254-7602
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