Lea en español

Your Right to Be Free From Unreasonable Search or Seizure

Search and Seizure
The 4th Amendment provides everyone with protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The 4th Amendment also requires that a court find probable cause before issuing a search warrant. The courts have consistently held that these rights only apply if a person has “a legitimate expectation of privacy” in the place or thing to be searched. To determine whether such expectation of privacy existed, the court will ask the following questions:

  • Did you actually expect some degree of privacy?
  • Was your expectation objectively reasonable? Is society willing to recognize it as such?

Based on the unique circumstances of each case, the court may determine that you either had no expectation of privacy—perhaps you allowed unlimited access to the place or thing—or that your expectation wasn’t reasonable. If you fail to meet the test, any location—home, car, boat, office, bank records, safe deposit box, trash barrel—may be subject to a legal search.

To establish probable cause, the courts have held that police officers must be able to point to objective facts. An officer does not need the factual evidence necessary to prove a case in court, but it must be more than a mere suspicion. The determination of probable cause must be made by a judge, not by a law enforcement officer.

Latest Articles

Fort Worth Won’t Join Challenge to Law Banning Sanctuary Cities in Texas

By: Cecilia Guerrero Saldivar There has been a lot of controversy after the Fort Worth City Council…

20 Sep 2017, Wednesday

Millions at Risk in Equifax Data Breach

In the most massive data breach ever, more than 143 million Americans may have been compromised afte…

19 Sep 2017, Tuesday

A message from GetLegal to our friends and family in Houston and South Texas

31 Aug 2017, Thursday