1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Police Misconduct
  4.  » Understanding Your Fourth Amendment Rights

Protecting Your Rights Against Unlawful Actions

At Kennedy Law Firm, we believe that communities in New Mexico can be made safer through the protection of individuals’ civil rights. This includes the protections provided by the U.S. Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment provides protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” by the government or government agents. It requires police to either have a warrant or probable cause to search someone’s person, home or property.

What Counts As Probable Cause?

Probable cause generally refers to whether there are enough facts present for law enforcement to reasonably believe a crime has been committed or is being committed. These facts have to be specific, not just a police officer’s hunch.

For example, evidence of a crime in plain view of an officer would be enough for probable cause. Someone walking down the street in a hooded sweatshirt is not.

If police exceed their power to conduct a lawful search, evidence they find might be inadmissible in court. It is important to talk to a lawyer if you suspect an officer has abused their power.

Expectations Of Privacy

The amount of protection provided by the Fourth Amendment in a given situation depends on the nature of the stop or arrest and the characteristics of the location. Protection is said to extend to places where someone has a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” for example, the clothes you’re wearing as well as your purse, car, home or hotel room.

Searches without a warrant can only be conducted in limited circumstances, such as:

  • Someone with the power to consent allows police to search the premises
  • The search is conducted in connection to a lawful arrest
  • There is a risk to public safety or concern that evidence will be destroyed

Anything that is knowingly made open to the public, on the other hand, does not fall under the expectation of privacy. Garbage left on the curb for pickup no longer is considered private because the owner left it out in the open.

Request A Consultation Today With Our Attorneys

Our firm is dedicated to protecting civil rights — if you think your rights have been violated, we urge you to talk to an experienced attorney. We have over 75 years of combined experience, including time with the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Use our online form or call our Albuquerque office at 505-431-2167 to schedule a free initial consultation.