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The Fourth Amendment isn’t Dead

The Fourth Amendment provides “[t]he 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 persons or things to be seized.” The goal of the Fourth Amendment has always been to protect an individual’s right to privacy.  

It seems with each passing day that there is either another opinion or case that takes aim at the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is subject to so many attacks, that it is often said that the Fourth Amendment is dead. While it seems like the attacks on the Fourth Amendment are relentless, there are still cases where the Fourth Amendment stands strong.

Coat of Arms

Recently our firm was successful in not one, but two motions challenging the legality of a search of our client’s RV. Our client was driving his RV, and was stopped by officers for what the police stated was a minor traffic violation. Under the guise of the minor traffic violation, officers detained our client to allow a drug-detection canine to do an open-air sniff around the perimeter of the vehicle. The canine alerted on the vehicle, and marijuana was recovered from within the interior of the RV. To make a bad situation even worse, officers then used the information from the traffic stop in order to secure search warrants for our client’s home, which was located in another count. After securing the necessary warrants, officers then performed a search of the client’s home and located even more marijuana.

After obtaining evidence from the search of the RV, and the client’s home, our client was charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver THC, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place, and one count of manufacture/deliver THC. After a review of the case, we decided to file a motion challenging the legality of the stop of the RV, as well as the search of the RV. We were ultimately successful in the first case and the judge suppressed the evidence obtained from the RV. Following the success in the first case, we then filed a motion challenging the search warrants regarding our client’s home. We argued that the information obtained from the RV was tainted, and could not be used to demonstrate probable cause to support the issuance of the warrant for the client’s home. The judge in the second case agreed and ordered that all references in the search warrant regarding the evidence obtained from the stop of the RV must be excised from the affidavit in support of the search warrant. As a result of the Fourth Amendment victories in both cases, both matters were dismissed.

It took almost two years of litigation, but the result was phenomenal for the client. Further, these two cases are proof that the Fourth Amendment is still alive and well.

 

Reference Material:

http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does-0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution