Know Your Fourth and Fifth Amendments

Many people living in the United States, are unaware of their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable search and seizures. This protection is extended to things such as your person, house, car, papers etc. Under this amendment, there must be a warrant issued, you must verbally consent, or there must be probable cause for a search to be carried out. Some situations included in probable cause are, if illegal contraband is in plain sight, or if a situation puts the police officer in immediate danger. Police are also legally able to carry out a search if the person is being arrested. Under the Fifth Amendment your right to not incriminate yourself, and your right to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law are protected.To make sure that you do not accidentally waive these rights you should take certain precautions. You SHOULD NOT answer any questions asked without having an attorney present, and you SHOULD exercise your right to remain silent. These rights can be very finicky and hard to deal with, so you must always stay calm, and be careful.

In the supreme court case “Salinas v. Texas” (1922), Genovevo Salinas was a suspect for the murder of Juan and Hector Garza. With warrant, police entered the home of Salinas’ family. Salinas’ father turned over a gun to the police, and Salinas voluntarily agreed to go to the station for an interview. For the first hour, he answered questions willingly, but after being asked “if the shotgun [his father had given the police] would match the shells recovered at the scene of the crime” he fell silent. When in court, the point was made to the jury that an innocent man would have answered that the gun would not match the shells. Therefore salinas was found guilty. Salinas argued that this went against his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. But the verdict remained.

Years later after a very similar case in “Griffin v. California” (1965), it was finally ruled that in a court case, you can not draw negative conclusion from somebody’s silence due to the Fifth Amendment right.

In another case “Terry v. Ohio” (1968), a cleveland police officer, Martin McFadden, saw two men, John W. Terry and Richard Chilton, suspiciously walking downtown. The men kept alternating, back and forth, stopping in front of the same store window. McFadden, suspecting the two men of intent to rob approached the men. When the men still acted suspiciously, McFadden frisked Terry, to avoid immediate danger. McFadden found a pistol in Terry’s coat pocket. He now had probable cause to provide a full search of their persons. He then found a revolver on Chilton. Terry and Chilton were both charged with “carrying a concealed weapon”. They tried to then fight that the evidence was obtained against their Fourth Amendment rights. Their case was ruled to not be against these rights due to probable suspicion by the officer. They were found guilty.

    Seeing what minor details affect these finicky rights, you must be extremely careful dealing with police.

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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 5:32 PM, 10.12.2015