The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

4th Amendment – Search and Seizure

The 4th Amendment in Summary

The 4th Amendment is one of the constitutional bulwarks that prevents our police departments from operating like the Stasi or the KGB. Why can’t an American police force conduct arbitrary midnight raids of houses, at random, looking for incriminating evidence? Because of our 4th Amendment protections police cannot set up a perpetual electronic surveillance over political dissidents. Of course, the police must sometimes search persons or places when they investigate crimes or hunt down criminals. But the 4th Amendment makes sure that they conduct these searches only within certain set parameters. After the addition of numerous 4th Amendment Court decisions, those parameters may appear, at times, to be confusing and unsettled. Nonetheless, the value of our 4th Amendment protections can be truly appreciated only by those who have experienced what life can be like without them.