Residents of Indiana and all other states have protection against unlawful searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This may be of particular importance to you if the police have recently pulled you over in a traffic stop, entered your home, or arrested and charged you with criminal charges. Understanding the Fourth Amendment may help you plan a strong criminal defense.
The term “reasonable” comes into play when determining whether a personal rights violation has occurred regarding the Fourth Amendment. Did the police search your vehicle or enter your home against your consent? If so, did they have a “reasonable” cause to do so? The question is: What constitutes as “reasonable?” Understanding your rights and knowing where to seek support to defend them can help you achieve a positive outcome when facing criminal charges in an Indiana court.
Unless exceptions apply, it is unreasonable to search a home without a warrant
If police knock on your door and request entry to search your home, you have the right to request proof of a validly authorized warrant. If the officers in question do not show you one, it would legally be “unreasonable” to enter and search your home without your consent. If exigent circumstances exist (such as evidence that a crime is underway inside the house at that moment), police may conduct a warrantless search.
Special rules apply regarding searches by school officials
If you’re a student or the parent of one, be aware that school officials do not need any type of warrant to conduct a search of a person or property of a person who is under their authority at the time. This means that, if a school official wants to search a locker, for instance, it is legally reasonable to do so in all circumstances.
Patting a person down is permissible during a lawful traffic stop
If an Indiana police officer has reasonable cause to pull you over in a traffic stop, the officer can also conduct a search of your person, meaning “pat you down.” The key to a criminal defense in this instance would be whether the officer, in fact, had a reasonable cause to pull you over in the first place.
A law enforcement officer cannot arbitrarily stop you at random. If an officer pulls you over in a traffic stop, he or she must have a justifiable reason to do so — a provable suspicion that you have violated traffic laws or committed a crime. Police cannot stop you because of racial profiling or because they are acting “on a hunch” that causes them to suspect you in some way. They must be able to articulate the exact reason they pulled you over.
Police must have probable cause to arrest you
Even if an Indiana police officer had reasonable cause to pull you over in a traffic stop, he or she cannot take you into custody without probable cause, which is different from reasonable suspicion. Probable cause means that an officer has determined that there is evidence to suggest that you have committed a crime, such as failing a field sobriety test, which is probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving.
If you believe that a personal rights violation of the Fourth Amendment has occurred, you can seek criminal defense support to determine a best course of action regarding how to use the information to achieve a positive outcome in your case.