What Are Some Constitutional Rights You Should Be Aware Of?


Quick Answer

Some constitutional rights that everyone should be aware of are the Fourth Amendment protection from illegal searches and seizures and the Fifth Amendment right to avoid self incrimination. The Fourth Amendment prevents the police from requiring anyone to submit to a search of their body, possessions, vehicles or homes without a warrant and establishes rules for gathering evidence. Courts have traditionally treated evidence that has been wrongfully obtained or outside the scope of a warrant as inadmissible.

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Full Answer

The Fifth Amendment protects anyone from having to answer questions or make statements without consulting an attorney. Courts have traditionally prevented from continuing to question anyone asserting this privilege by refusing to consider statements obtained after the suspect requested counsel.

Civil liberty organizations claim that there is a growing judicial trend since the World Trade Center attacks to substantially broaden the ability of police to obtain statements and evidence and restrict the ability of suspects to assert their constitutional privileges. They point to series of court rulings in which nearly anything that can be construed as consent to a search or any conversation with the police may be construed as a voluntary waiver of these rights. Courts have recently ruled that practically anyone in close physical proximity to the property of another can grant consent to a police search, and any statements given by a suspect are voluntary, even when police have coerced them through threats and intimidation. Individuals must now follow specific rules of behavior to protect their constitutional rights, such as repeatedly stating that they do not consent to a search and do not intend to make any statement.

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