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Legal Context: The Fourth Amendment

At the NYC law office of The Sanders Firm, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting your civil rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment is focused on limiting the power of the courts and law enforcement, and it protects all of us from actions that could put our personal property and freedom in jeopardy. It is often referred to by the simple phrase “probable cause,” and “unreasonable searches and seizures” but these simple phrases have a far reaching effect when it comes to civil rights.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and it specifically protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” As with so much of the constitution, this amendment is open to interpretation and often its meaning is reinterpreted by the courts.

The Fourth Amendment reads, “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 persons or things to be seized.”

The protections afforded by this amendment include:

  • Rights to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures
  • The need for probable cause in issuing search warrants
  • The need to be specific in describing the search

This amendment protects us from unreasonable intrusions into our daily lives and keeps our homes secure from unwarranted intrusion by law enforcement, the government, and the courts. It says that everyone has a right to be secure in their homes from government intrusion. The Amendment also applies to our vehicles, anything we may carry one our person, such as a computer case, handbag or backpack, and any other such property.


There are times when a warrant is not required for a search of one’s property. These include when someone consents to a search, when something that is contraband is in plain view as long as there is probable cause, and for exigent circumstances, that is when waiting for and acquiring a warrant would be impractical and/or dangerous. Motor vehicles, because they are usually not residencies and do not serve as a place where one stores personal items, are not fully protected by the Fourth Amendment. Also warrants are not required for border searches, searches that are incident to arrest, or foreign intelligence surveillance.

The Importance of the Fourth Amendment

We at New York’s The Sanders Firm, P.C. are ready to work for you if your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. Like other civil rights, these are basic to our democracy and any violation of the rights set forth in this amendment will not only compromise your rights but it will also erode the freedom of others. Thus, we must be circumspect in our protection of the Fourth Amendment.

Simply put, the protections given by the amendment mean that your home cannot be searched on a whim, that due process must be followed in issuing a warrant, and that there must be a good reason for the search.

Preserving Your Freedom

The Sanders Firm, P.C. believes in the essence of the Fourth Amendment and its importance in living in a free society. Each aspect of the amendment is treated in more detail in the pages on our website specifically focusing on this part of the law. If you have questions regarding this amendment or feel your rights have been violated under it, contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. your voice for justice. We will work ardently to protect your civil rights under the Fourth Amendment.