Amendment 4
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The Constitutional Defense: Amendment 4

The Fourth Amendment:

The 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 person or things to be seized.

What to do when an officer wants to search your vehicle.

The Fourth Amendment secures "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." This is my opinion of what you should do if you think an officer is unreasonably searching your vehicle. Never try to forcibly stop an officer from searching your vehicle. This could lead to your arrest, and add to your charges if anything illegal is found. Politely inform the officer that you do not authorize him to search your vehicle, and ask him what he thinks warrants the search. If the officer does not answer, or if you feel the reason he gives is unsatisfactory, politely inform him that if he searches the vehicle you will press charges for unreasonable search, and ask him to record your statements and his reason for searching.
Make sure to get the officer's name and badge number. This will greatly aid you if you end up pressing charges, and will also help if you simply wish to complain to the police department. If anything illegal is found in the vehicle, and the officer tries to arrest you, do not resist, and do not argue. If you are polite, courteous, and reasonably quiet throughout the entire incident, it will be much easier for you to claim in court that the search was unreasonable. If you argue extensively, seem nervous, or physically resist the officer, it will be harder to argue your case. If the officer is set on searching your vehicle,
and informing him that you do not authorize the search doesn't help, then nothing further will deter him. If possible, watch the officer the entire time to make sure he doesn't plant evidence. This would be an extremely rare event, but it has happened before, and it almost certainly will happen again. It is also possible that the officer will incorrectly document the evidence, either by mistake or purposefully. Politely request that the officer inform you of everything he has found, and to document the evidence at that point. It is very possible that the officer will not grant this request. If this is the case, do not press your inquiry. Simply remember to inform your attorney of the incident, and of the fact that the officer may have incorrectly documented the evidence. This will usually not be a problem to remedy, since the police department will keep all of the evidence collected. If the officer does incorrectly document the evidence, do not say anything about it to the officer at that time. Inform your attorney, and he will probably be able to clear up the matter with the police department before you go to court. If you do notice an officer
planting evidence, inform him that you see he is planting evidence, and then keep quiet. If you follow all of these recommendations, there is still a possibility that you will be
wrongfully arrested and possibly convicted, but the chance will be much reduced. It would also be a very good idea to find out in advance about any local laws that may apply.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jonathan Clark at
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