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Individual rights when police search people and their property

Many Indiana residents take comfort in knowing that law enforcement officials throughout their communities are prepared to step up if dangerous or difficult situations develop in their cities and towns. When problems arise, police and other first responders must quickly assess what has happened and how best to deal with the consequences. To this end, certain law enforcement officials may be allowed to encroach on individuals' personal rights, such as that to privacy, when the situations warrant such action.

However, during most encounters with Evansville residents, police officers do not have the unlimited power to investigate, search or seize people or their property without a reason. This protection comes from the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ensures that Americans may enjoy some expectation of privacy in their thoughts and actions.

In order to search or arrest an individual under the Fourth Amendment, a law enforcement official generally must have a warrant to do so. That warrant will stipulate what scope of search the officer may engage in, or what crime the officer may arrest the individual for before taking them into custody. When a law enforcement official has probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed, they may intercede without a warrant and without violating the Fourth Amendment.

When law enforcement officials overstep their permissible actions and encroach on the personal rights of individuals, they may face sanctions and the evidence that they collect may be kept out of the criminal trials that defendants may be forced to face. Criminal defense options can support individuals who believe that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated during illegal police searches and seizures.

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