What are my rights under the Fourth Amendment?

A previous post on this space talked about the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution as it relates to evidence obtained when someone is stopped and frisked during a traffic violation. Many Illinois residents may not know that the Fourth Amendment to the constitution also protects their right to privacy within their homes. This means that if a search is to be conducted, there must be probable cause to conduct it.

Found in the constitution, probable cause is an essential requirement that must be fulfilled before authorities make an arrest, conduct a search or receive a warrant. The courts have to determine probable cause, as the term is not specified within the constitution.

With regards to a search, courts have found probable cause when there is a fair probability that the search will reveal evidence of a crime having been committed. Where the search is being conducted pursuant to a warrant, there must be an affidavit or some testimony that supports the warrant and points out the basis on which probable cause exists. If the accompanying affidavit provides sufficient information establishing probable cause, the judge can issue the warrant.

When someone has been accused of committing drug crimes and the damaging evidence includes illegal substances obtained from the accused individual’s house, an experienced attorney may be able to challenge the prosecution on the basis of a violation of fundamental rights. When police officers enter an Illinois resident’s home and confiscate illegal substances, there must be probable cause to enter the premises and conduct the search.