What Is the 4th Amendment to the Constitution?


Quick Answer

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents unreasonable searches and seizures of property. The amendment requires a warrant given by a judge in order to search any property or evidence. The warrant must be supported by a probable cause, notes the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.

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Full Answer

The amendment was introduced due to the unfairness of the British writ of assistance used during colonial-era America. The writ of assistance allowed tax collectors and police to seize any and all property without the say of the owner.

The Fourth Amendment was presented by James Madison in 1789. The amendment gave police and other positions of power the ability to only seize property related to a specific crime or task. The original form of the amendment only protected the unlawful entering of police, but was later written to include the need of a warrant to take any piece of property from the owner.

Even later, the amendment had to be updated to include the illegal use of tapping and recording without probable cause and a warrant. Police must now have a reason and warrant to do such things as listen in on someone in the privacy of their own home. The expectation of probable cause requires police to have enough legitimate evidence that could hold on its own in court in order to obtain a search warrant, states the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.

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