When colonists were at war with Great Britain, certain events led to the drafting of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If you are well versed in early American history, you may know that British soldiers often invaded people’s homes to try to collect evidence that would suggest they had committed crimes. As a result, the founding fathers made sure to protect you against unreasonable government invasion of your privacy.
When it comes to your Texas home, your vehicle, your business or your person, you have certain rights that impose restrictions on the process government officials use to conduct searches and seizures during investigations. Are you currently facing criminal charges? Did a police officer search your car or home before arresting you? The more you understand about the Fourth Amendment and know how to access support resources, the better you’ll be able to protect your rights in court.
Your consent is necessary
Let’s suppose you were driving down a highway when a police officer initiated a traffic stop. Now, let’s say the officer approached your driver’s side window and told you he or she noticed your tires veering over the yellow line between traffic lanes. This was followed by a request for you to step out of your car. If the officer asked if you minded whether he or she searched your vehicle, you were under no legal obligation to consent if the officer did not have a valid search warrant.
A Texas police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated traffic laws in order to conduct a traffic stop. To arrest you on suspicion of a crime, there must be probable cause. This means the officer must have witnessed, heard or have evidence to show it is probable that you committed a crime. For instance, if you submit to field sobriety tests and it is the officer’s opinion that you performed the tests poorly, this may serve as probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving.
Violation of your rights
There are certain circumstances under which investigators may conduct searches without warrants. However, police are not free to say and do whatever they like during traffic stops or when they show up at your door, asking to enter your home or place of business. If you believe a law enforcement agent has deviated from established rules governing the search and seizure process, you can take immediate steps to protect your Fourth Amendment rights.