What a Search is Under the Fourth Amendment in Utah

The Fourth Amendment Protects You From Police Searches

The fourth amendment of the federal constitution provides that the right of people to “be secure in their persons, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”  What exactly constitutes a “search” under the amendment though?

The definition of what a “search” is within the fourth amendment was at one time tied closely to property law concepts.  Police action would be deemed a search if it constituted what the common law deemed a trespass such as going into someone’s home uninvited.  Physical intrusion is no longer necessary though, since methods of surveillance and eavesdropping have become more technologically sophisticated, and the old definition of search is outdated and under-inclusive.

What a Search Constitutes In Utah

In the 1960’s, the US Supreme Court brought the fourth amendment into the modern era.  The Court ruled that the fourth amendment protects people not places, and its reach cannot turn solely on whether a physical intrusion occurred.  Instead, applicability of the amendment derives from the concept of privacy.

While the Court seemed at first to represent an expansion of the constitutional protection against an unreasonable search, decisions in recent years have construed the test more narrowly.  The fourth amendment applies only where: 1.) the citizen has manifested a subjective expectation of privacy; and 2.) that expectation is one that society accepts as objectively reasonable.  It is not enough for the target to believe that he is acting in private; that belief must also be deemed reasonable.  The Supreme Court’s decisions have tended to take a restrictive view of what society considers a justifiable privacy expectation.  For example, you would not have a justifiable privacy expectation to grow marijuana viewable from an aircraft.

Were You Searched Unlawfully by Utah Law Enforcement?

If you have an expectation of privacy and that expectation is one society accepts as objectively reasonable, the police must obtain a search warrant to violate that privacy.  Call the criminal defense lawyers from Salcido Law Firm if law enforcement has unlawfully searched you.  Our criminal defense attorneys may be able to have evidence not used against you if it was obtained by the police outside the limits of the fourth amendment.  Call the experienced criminal defense lawyers today at 801.618.1334. for a free consultation.

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