Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment

The law regarding search and seizure by government officials or agents is both complicated and extensive. Prior to the American Revolution, the British authorities were permitted to enter the homes of colonists to search for and seize evidence of crimes with little or no justification. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was drafted to protect the personal privacy of citizens and provides for the right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property.

This amendment has also impacted the requirements and procedures required for a legal arrest, a police stop on the street, and the searches of both homes and businesses.

The Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure Protections

In general, search and seizure rules determine whether evidence is admissible at trial. Evidence collected in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment is barred from use at trial as the colorfully named 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine. Law enforcement isn't entirely handicapped by the Fourth Amendment, however, and the police can still search or seize where they have a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant, or probable cause that a person has committed a crime.

The rules of evidence are notoriously complicated. The Fourth Amendment's text and supplemental information are available for your review, but the highly technical nature of evidentiary issues means that the experience of a legal professional can be very helpful to determine how the Fourth Amendment's protections might help in your case.

Amendment Text

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.

Fourth Amendment: Annotations

The text of constitutional amendments is usually quite thin, but the following annotations will help you better understand how the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted by the courts.

Learn More About the Fourth Amendment by Talking to a Lawyer

The Fourth Amendment is packed with rights and protections and imposes restrictions on how the government can collect evidence against you. To learn more about your rights or get help fighting criminal charges, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area today.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified criminal lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex criminal defense situations usually require a lawyer
  • Defense attorneys can help protect your rights
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options