Know Your fourth Amendment Rights
Unless you speak up, and exercise your rights. The police can and will completely ignore them. Learn how to protect yourself and your rights.
Do you know what to do when the cops show up at your doorstep? Do you know your right when dealing with the police? Everyone should know the protections of the fourth amendment. The fourth amendment enumerates the, “right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” That all sounds great, but what does it mean? The fourth amendment means, you have the right to be left alone unless the police can prove to a judge they think you are doing something wrong.
What impact does this have on you? If the police show up at your doorstep and do not have a warrant; you can close the door in their face. Legally the home is your most protected of spaces. If you rent the landlord is not allowed give the police access to your home. Roommates can only give the police permission to search common areas; your room is protected. Even if you share a room the courts have recognized the imaginary line you draw down the middle. The only person you have to worry about giving permission for a warrantless search is you. If the police show up with a warrant in hand all is not lost. First, ask to read the warrant. The warrant will list everything that the cops are allowed to search. If the cops start looking where there not suppose to ask them to stop. Finally, double-check to make sure the warrant is for your address.
Unlike the home, which the law considers a persons castle, a person’s car is a much more grey area under the fourth amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that police can legally search, without a warrant, anywhere the driver could physically reach. Different size drivers and vehicles has led to the rule of thumb anywhere not closed is subject to search. The glove box and, the trunk are usually safe. Anything that the officer can see through the window however, is fair game.
What ever happens, do not get tricked into giving consent. The officer will never directly ask for you to consent to a search. Instead they will often say, “Do you mind if we look around a little?” The correct answer is, “I do not consent to any search of any kind.” Saying that phrase can save you a world of hassle. Do not be surprised if the cop comes back with something like, “you want me to call the dogs?” Do not let their fear tactics cause you to give up your rights. The officer will normally have to wait for someone else to arrive with the dog. While you are waiting ask the officer if you are free to go. Surprisingly the answer is often yes, people just do not think to ask. Also, you have the right to refuse to allow the dog to smell your car. They may still do it but if there was no probable cause to detain you the judge will throw out any evidence the dog finds.
Remember that the Constitution gives every American protection from the abuses of the police. The most important thing to remember is stay calm and, do not consent to any searches. Most marijuana arrests are avoidable if you know your rights and play it smart. A resent Supreme Court decision allows the police to enter your home if they say they smell marijuana. This decision destroys a great deal of the protection granted by the fourth amendment. Even the best prepared most cautious person can still get busted. There is no reason, however, to increase that chance.