The Sanders Firm, P.C.: The Fourth Amendment and Seizure of Person

At The Sanders Firm, P.C., we often get queries regarding the Fourth Amendment, including those related to seizure of person and an individual’s civil rights. Although many people are familiar with seizure of property and what that pertains to under the Fourth Amendment, our lawyers find that there is often confusion regarding seizure of person. Understanding what this along with knowing your rights and the limitations of law enforcement in relationship to seizure is important in order to maintain your basic freedoms.

Seizure of Person

Seizure of person refers to the arrest or even the short detention of an individual. We are protected by the Fourth Amendment from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and seizure may only take place after warrants based on “probable cause” have been issued. Those warrants must be “particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In basic terms this means if you are in your home no law enforcement official or other officer of the court may come in an arrest you, take you into custody, or in any way physically restrain you unless they have probable cause and in terms of arrest, an arrest warrant.

Generally, questioning an individual in a public place is not a form of seizure. If a person’s freedom of movement is not being restrained, then they have not been seized. However, no individual may be detained without sufficient grounds and if an individual decides to not listen to or answer questions posed by officers this is not sufficient grounds for detention.

Basic Elements of Seizure of Person

In order for a person to be considered seized by a law enforcement officer, they:

• Must be physically restrained in some manner (handcuffed)
• Placed in a secure location (police car, jail cell, interrogation room)
• Are not allowed upon their request to leave or go to another location

These are the simplest elements of seizure of person.

Seizure and Civil Rights

Your civil rights are protected from any illegal seizure of person. Seizure is illegal in your home if it is entered by officers without an arrest warrant, if the warrant is not based on probable cause, or if they enter on a search warrant and without finding evidence arrest you.

If you have been seized, either arrested or detained, in a manner that violates your Fourth Amendment rights, you have the right to seek justice. Consider the manner in which seizure of person is outlined above and if your rights have been compromised in any way.

More Information and Assistance

If you are in the New York City area and have questions regarding illegal seizure of person or feel that you have been a victim of such, contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. We will discuss your situation and work with you. At The Sanders Firm, P.C., we believe in and uphold your Fourth Amendment rights. We will be your voice for justice.