Your Rights

A Brief Discussion About Your Rights Under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The purpose of the 4th Amendment is to protect people from illegal government searches and/or seizures of you or your property without legal probable cause or reasonable suspicion. A search warrant, signed by a judge is not always necessary. The courts have created many exceptions to when a warrant is needed.

It is very important to contact an attorney immediately after a search. Evidence that helps you could be lost if you wait to see charges will be filed. Call us as soon as you can at (267) 415-6130 or contact us online.

It is not unusual for the police to search a home, a car, or a person, and then do nothing for weeks or months. Then, "out of the blue" that person may be arrested but in the meantime, evidence such a video recordings, audio recordings, phone records, and other things can disappear or be erased due to police department policy.

A violation of the 4th Amendment can even be made by a private person if it can be shown that they were working as an agent or under government control or supervision. If you feel that your rights under the 4th amendment have been violated contact a lawyer immediately.

Suggestions for dealing with searches, seizures and arrest:

  • Don't give your consent to search if you don't want them to search. BE SURE THAT YOU HAVE "NOTHING TO HIDE". They might say, "We will get a search warrant anyway." Let them get the warrant.

  • The police may want you to sign a "Waiver of Rights" and consent to search form. Don't sign it unless you are willing to waive them.

  • Make sure you READ everything a police officer gives you to sign.

  • Be polite, even if you don't give your consent to search your person, car or home. They are most likely going to search anyway.

  • Resisting arrest or trying to run will just give the police another reason to arrest you and add to the charges, and then they can search you and the area around you.

  • Assert your rights clearly, if you want a lawyer, say "I want a lawyer."

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

The most important parts of this amendment are the prohibitions against double jeopardy and testifying against yourself. Both are important—but you should be more concerned with the part about "testifying against yourself." Do NOT give a statement to the police.

If you are arrested, in custody, or detained and the police officer wants to ask you a question, all you need to say is, "I want a lawyer present." Just insist that you want a lawyer and stick to it—even if the police say they will not arrest you if you talk. Usually, no good will come from talking to the police without an attorney present.

Don't try to be your own lawyer. Many people aid in their own convictions by talking—not necessarily confessing—just talking. The police are well trained in techniques to make you talk, and that does not mean the spot light and rubber hose, or "good cop bad cop". It can be as simple as getting you something to drink and making you feel comfortable, or nervous.

Don't fall for it; just ask for the lawyer and then "SHUT UP." If you are being questioned by the police, as nice as they seem, they are probably not your friend at this point. And again, be polite.

Many people think that they cannot be arrested if the police did not read them their rights. This is not true. Generally, the 5th Amendment "Miranda" warnings come into play if the police want to question you. Their failure to give a Miranda warning does not necessarily make an arrest illegal.