The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is what keeps police from searching your belongings and home unless certain exceptions are met. In short, the Fourth Amendment protects individuals and their property from unreasonable search and seizure. This is an important right, and the news and social media are filled with stories about infringement by overzealous law enforcement officers. If you feel you were the subject of Fourth Amendment violations in Indiana, you need an experienced lawyer who can evaluate your case as soon as possible. Josiah Swinney has handled many high profile Fourth Amendment cases, and he is prepared to assert your rights in a court of law.
Whether proving your rights were violated or that an exception to allow a search or seizure doesn’t apply to your case, an Indianapolis area, Carmel Fishers Fourth Amendment violation attorney at Camden & Meridew, P.C. has the experience fight against the prosecution’s use of illegally obtained evidence against you.
An Introduction to Fourth Amendment Violations in Indiana
The Fourth Amendment protects all people from searches and seizures, requiring different amounts of evidence depending on the scenario. Initially, the court generally looks at whether the police had a warrant for the search or seizure at issues and, if there was no such warrant, whether the search fell under one of the exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.
The first inquiry is whether the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The reasonable expectation argument is very fact-sensitive, and determining whether a reasonable expectation of privacy existed requires evaluation on a case-by-case basis.
If an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, the police must have a search warrant, or an exception to the search warrant requirement must exist, for a search to be constitutional. A complete search warrant must meet the following qualifications:
- Be based on probable cause; and
- State with particularity the place to be searched and things to be seized.
The law on search and seizure is complex and ever-evolving. Protect this incredibly important right by working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Exceptions to Fourth Amendment Violations in Indiana
A police search conducted without a warrant generally violates Fourth Amendment rights. However, there are exceptions to this rule that permit officers to conduct a warrantless search.
For example, a search incident to a legal arrest is allowed, but it must occur at the same time and place as the arrest. Additionally, police are generally limited to searching the area immediately surrounding the arrested individual.
A vehicle search incident to arrest arises when the arrestee is unsecured and can still access the vehicle or when the police reasonably suspect evidence of the crime is in the vehicle. When the police have probable cause, they may search the entire interior of the vehicle, including the trunk and any luggage inside the car that may reasonably contain the object of the search.
When the police are legally at a location where contraband is immediately apparent, the plain view doctrine provides that no search warrant is necessary to search visible areas. However, law enforcement may not enter a property to gain a plain view and must be there for a legitimate reason before conducting a search permissible under the plain view exception.
Finally, police may conduct a search of a person or that person’s property if the individual has given permission for the search.
Damages for Fourth Amendment Violations in Indiana
Under 42 USC § 1983, the subject of an illegal search and/or seizure may seek damages from the party determined to be liable for violation of the Fourth Amendment. Typically, damages center around monetary rewards. Because an unreasonable search violates the Constitution, lawsuits for damages are brought in federal court. These are separate cases from any criminal prosecution resulting from evidence found in the search.
To bring a lawsuit in federal court, the defendant must file a complaint in the federal district court. In Indiana, that would be either the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana or the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Evidence Obtained during Fourth Amendment Violations in Indiana
Evidence obtained because of an illegal search is not admissible in court. In some cases, the prosecution may not be able to meet the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt without that evidence, in which case the defendant would likely be acquitted of the charges. However, even evidence obtained as the result of a Fourth Amendment violation is permissible in court if any these apply:
- The authorities would have discovered the evidence eventually.
- The authorities reasonably relied on an invalid search warrant.
- The authorities used an independent source of information to find the evidence.
Whether these evidentiary rule applies in your case can be difficult to discern. A Carmel Fishers Fourth Amendment violation attorney at Camden & Meridew can help determine whether an exclusionary rule should apply in your case and provide strong argument to support that defense theory.
Your Indiana Attorney for Fourth Amendment Violations
If you believe law enforcement has subjected you to Fourth Amendment violations in Indiana, you need an attorney with experience in constitutional law as early in the legal process as possible. Reach out to Camden & Meridew, P.C. to talk with an Indiana attorney for Fourth Amendment violations who can advise you on your specific case. Call 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.