Missouri defendants have many constitutional protections in the criminal justice system. One of them is the Fourth Amendment, which protects them from illegal searches and seizures. This is otherwise known as the privacy safeguard in the Constitution. Police cannot make an illegal arrest, and they must follow certain procedures and protocols when searching property.

The Fourth Amendment can apply when one is walking down the street or even sitting in their home. Police cannot simply enter a home and search whatever they want. Instead, unless one lets the police into their home, police need to obtain a warrant from a court to enter. Police can also not simply help themselves to anything in a home that they think is relevant evidence. They must request that a court grant them a search warrant.

Similarly, people are protected when they are walking or driving. Police cannot just stop and question someone unless they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Similarly, when police make a traffic stop, they need to have probable cause to search the rest of the car. When a police officer makes an illegal arrest, any conviction obtained can be overturned. Also, evidence seized in violation of one’s constitutional rights cannot be admitted at trial to convict them. However, Fourth Amendment issues can be very complex with multiple arguments.

When one’s right to privacy has been violated, a criminal defense attorney can petition the court to drop the charges or exclude evidence. The attorney is the best line of defense against illegal searches as the matter would usually need to be raised to a judge. The average defendant does not know enough on their own to realize when their constitutional rights have been violated and what to do about it if they are.