A Historical Challenge During Challenging Times: How Well Do You Know the Bill of Rights?
As the summer and political heat reaches its peak, perhaps evoking a history challenge may be a cooler diversion. If asked, what are the two most popular amendments of the United States Constitutional Bill of Rights, a gambling man (or woman) may answer, the First and Second Amendments. Of course, there are a number of others that are just as important to protecting the rights of Americans, especially those who have been accused of a crime.
Basic Civil Rights
As our forefathers provided futuristic insight as to the importance of each amendment, the First Amendment protects our fundamental rights of conscience allowing for the right of expression without public or governmental interference. While not unlimited, these rights represent the bedrock of American liberty.
Next on the popularity list and perhaps one of the most controversial amendments is the right “to bullets as well as ballots”. This amendment protects individual rights to bear arms to secure the path and pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
Search and Seizure Laws
Skipping over the Third Amendment which weighs little on today’s society, as many of us are not expecting to “quarter” soldiers during times of peace, the next important amendment may prove historically relevant as we delve deeper into a technological society. The Fourth Amendment provides complete ownership of his or her own castle without the fear that law enforcement or the government will storm the gates without proper justification. Our forefathers had the foresight to ensure our person, home, papers, and all personal effects are secure from against illegal search and seizure. This amendment also states that no warrant may be issued unless based upon probable cause.
Although this is a very committed amendment, there is that tiny loophole, upon probable cause. This terminology allows for proven fact or circumstance allowing a legal search or seizure of personal property if deemed necessary. Such action is most evident when dealing with suspicion of illegal substances and firearms.
If you reside in Texas, you may note that the Fourth Amendment has been legally weakened over the past several decades. Encompassing logic from both the Second and Fourth Amendments, Texas courts have ruled that since legally-owned firearms now represent a threat of physical violence to law enforcement, officers may all but ignore the language of the Fourth Amendment.
Officers now operate under “No Knock” warrants and often treat all legally-issued warrants as such. This new language allows for instances of forcible entry without verbal or physical identification. As we experience increased turmoil around the globe, we can surely understand the pros and cons of tweaking search and seizure protocol. Perhaps the forefathers kept this in mind as they provided a small but necessary loophole.
If, on a Texas evening, you find yourself involved in such a situation, it may be against your better judgment to deny law enforcement in their request to conduct a search. Although it may be overly intrusive and unfair, if you have nothing to hide then perhaps it is best to squash the urge to educate the officer on your rights under the Fourth Amendment. If on the other hand, you are being detained without probable cause, unreasonable and unsubstantiated search and seizure procedure, then it may be time to contact a legal professional to discuss the violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
If you reside in the San Antonio area, were recently detained by law enforcement, and feel your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, contact experienced Texas criminal attorney, Sam H. Lock. Call 1-888-SAM-LOCK today.