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Atlanta Search and Seizure Attorney

The Bill of Rights outlines our most fundamental rights as Americans, from the right to free speech to the right to vote. The Fourth Amendment is one of our nation’s most important civil rights, and pertains to unreasonable search and seizure, either of property or your person.

If you or a loved one suspect that another party violated your Fourth Amendment rights, you may be able to collect compensation for any damages you suffered. Contact the Georgia civil rights attorneys at ChancoSchiffer P.C. for a free review of your legal options.

What Is the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment serves many important purposes, both in criminal and civil law. It protects personal privacy and ensures every person’s right to enjoy freedom from government intrusion into their daily activities. The Fourth Amendment barring search and seizure applies to your business, home, and even your car. There are several ways in which a police officer may violate your Fourth Amendment rights. The following are just some examples:

  • The use of excessive force. Police brutality is a violation of the Fourth Amendment under federal law. Police officers must use the “minimum amount of force necessary” to complete arrests. Excessive force is a form of unreasonable seizure under federal law.
  • False arrest or imprisonment. Police officers must follow certain procedures before making an arrest, whether it’s obtaining a warrant or establishing probable cause. Failure to do so represents an unreasonable seizure of your person.
  • Searching your home, car, or property without consent or a warrant. Police officers cannot search your home, car, or other property without express consent or a warrant. Probable cause also creates reasonable grounds for search of property.

What Is Probable Cause?

The idea that an officer may have probable cause serves as a direct defense to unreasonable search and seizure. Establishment of probable cause holds that a search or seizure was lawful, and that a civil rights violation did not occur. There are a few ways that a police officer can establish probable cause:

  • By witnessing a crime. A police officer may be able to lawfully search your vehicle if they see evidence of a crime in plain sight. An example might be searching your vehicle after seeing an open bag of illicit drugs during a traffic stop.
  • By having an eyewitness to a crime. A police officer does not have to witness a crime firsthand; he or she may have an eyewitness to it. This can establish probable cause as long as the police officer reasonably believes his or her story.

Probable cause is a vague and subjective term, and can be an essential point in determining whether you experienced a civil rights violation. A police officer cannot, for example, establish probable cause based on unreasonable factors such as race, creed, religion, or ethnicity.

What to Do After an Unlawful Search and Seizure

Civil rights violations like unlawful search and seizures often involve the people who are sworn to serve and protect citizens. If a police officer participated in an unlawful search and seizure, not only is any evidence they obtained inadmissible in court, he or she could also face legal consequences.

Federal law prohibits peace officers from violating the constitutional rights of others, and holds that they may be liable for any damages that result from such violations. This gives victims of unreasonable search and seizure the right to pursue legal claims for any damages that arise. These damages may include medical bills from excessive force, lost wages from false imprisonment, or intangible losses such as pain and suffering.

The attorneys at ChancoSchiffer P.C. are committed to upholding civil law and holding those who violate it responsible. Contact us to schedule a free review of your legal options today.