4th Amendment: Freedom From Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

One of the most significant powers of a law enforcement officer is the authority over a citizen to conduct a search. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. A search by the government can only occur with a validly obtained search warrant. This may seem simple. However, there are circumstances which can result in a search without a warrant. Some of the exceptions are as follows:

  • Exigent Circumstances
  • Stop and Frisk
  • Search Incident to Lawful Arrest
  • Custodial Search
  • Plain View
  • Border Searches
  • Consent Searches
  • Probation Searches

Attacking Illegal Searches and Seizures

We understand that the police have the upper hand and will use tactics to gain your consent to search your home or vehicle. You may be able to argue that the consent was not voluntary and have the evidence suppressed or the case dismissed.

Special hearings are held to determine if the police acted according to the strict standards of the Fourth Amendment. We have argued for dismissals in Macomb County, Oakland County and Wayne County district and circuit courts when the police search an individual without a warrant and/or valid exception to the search warrant requirement. Improper searches can be attacked at pretrial conference, preliminary examination or upon filing a motion for a hearing in the district or circuit court.

Suppression of Evidence

Once a successful attack is made regarding the search and seizure, the court may suppress the evidence seized pursuant to the legal doctrine known as "the fruit of the poisonous tree". The basis for this doctrine is that if the source of evidence is tainted (tree/illegal search), then anything gained from it (fruit/property seized) is as well. There are exceptions to this rule which may allow admission of the tainted evidence:

  • Discovery was in part a result of an independent, untainted source
  • Evidence would inevitably have been discovered
  • Chain of causation between the illegal action and the tainted evidence is too attenuated
  • A search warrant, not based upon probable cause, was executed in good faith.

If you are charged with a criminal offense in Macomb County, Oakland County or Wayne County, the ABDO LAW FIRM will scrutinize any improper search and seizure.