The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure. What areas can a person expect to have their privacy protected? Where does their privacy end, and public space is open.
Each person is protected by the Fourth Amendment in an area where they have a “legitimate expectation of privacy. ” The difficult part is ascertaining what is considered to have a legitimate expectation of privacy. Case law has established a two part test to determine what is protected by a person’s Constitutional rights. Did the person actually expect some degree of privacy, and was that privacy objectively reasonable?
For example, if a person is in a dressing room changing and officers have placed a video camera in the stall to catch shoplifters, it is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights. The person who is in the dressing room, expects that it is a private place, no one is watching, and therefore they have a legitimate expectation of privacy in a room where they changes, even if it is technically a public place.
In comparison, a person does not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in their back seat. For example, a driver has a box of heroin in his back seat. Officer’s stop him for running a red light, and see the box in the back seat, in plain view. There is no legitimate expectation of privacy, because a backseat is visible to anyone who walks by a parked car or otherwise.
Another, trickier, example is a garage. A person often leaves their garage open for the neighborhood to say. So one can argue that similar to a back seat, it is in public view and can be seen and therefore there is no legitimate expectation of privacy. However, it is a part of a person’s home, where they expect to have privacy. A garage can be argued either way, a presentation and strong argument presented by a Southern California Criminal Lawyer will determine whether the person had a legitimate
expectation of privacy or not. If the person leaves their garage open often, and has neighbors and others in and out of it, there may not be an expectation of privacy, and may not be protected by the Fourth Amendment. However, if the person stores lots of personal belongings and keeps the door closed, then there is an argument that it is private and is protected by the Fourth Amendment.
Determining whether the area searched had a legitimate expectation of privacy is the first and foremost concern with a claim for Fourth Amendment violation. Constitutional rights are taken very seriously, and if there is a claim for a violation, the Court will deal with it very seriously. Consult an experienced San Diego Criminal Attorney so that you know if your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. If they were, it could leave to the evidence being thrown out and your case being reduced or dismissed.