November 22, 2016
Understanding Your 4th & 5th Amendment Rights
A lot of people don’t know that they don’t have to do everything the police say. For example, they can’t arrest you for refusing to open a door without a warrant. There are times when the police will take advantage of individuals not knowing their rights to make their job quicker and easier.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides, “[t]he 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.”
Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a specific crime has been committed and that the defendant committed the crime. It only requires a small piece of evidence or strong suggestion that there has been a crime.
A violation would be called Subjective Expectation. These are instances where a person has the expectation to privacy of their personal activities. Violations include being unknowingly tested for drug use at a hospital or in the case of State v. Morris, where law enforcement peered through an opening in the blinds to see inside a home.
Opening Your Door
The police show up at your door shouting to open up. Whether you’ve committed a crime or not, you don’t have to open the door to them; as soon as you open the door you are no longer protected by the Fourth Amendment. Ask to see their warrant through the window or slid under the door or mail slot.
The police also cannot search your car unless you are not the owner or an authorized driver.
The Fifth Amendment is perhaps more well-known because of the popularity of the police procedural, prevents self-incrimination and forbids “double jeopardy” (being tried for substantially the same crime more than once.)
Understand your Miranda Rights, these are what protect you from accidentally saying something incriminating. A good rule of thumb is to say “Lawyer” and nothing else. The police will talk at you for hours but you don’t have to say a word. They can easily put words in your mouth by suggesting information to you if you converse.