The Fourth Amendment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

The Fourth Amendment

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By Tim Guidera - bio | email 

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – The obtaining of a search warrant has been used as a dramatic tool in pretty much every cop show of the last half-century.

But it's the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure that made the right such a common stable of American society.

Originally requiring government officials, such as police, to have an order from a judge before searching ones homes and belongings, the amendment has come to extend to modern possessions such as phone records and computer files.

"And the Supreme Court has done a lot to develop the Fourth Amendment as well,'' said Georgia Southern University Political Science professor Brett Curry. "They added the exclusionary rule, the exclusion of evidence if it's obtained illegally without a warrant and doesn't involve some sort of special circumstances. That's a judicially created rule that basically says that it can't be used. And that's something that's actually pretty unique throughout the world, Canada doesn't have it, a number of other nations don't have it and it's an American invention really.''

The Fourth Amendment only provides protection from illegal search and seizure by government officials, not private citizens. So, if an employer unreasonably searched your belongings at work, your Fourth Amendment rights would not have been violated.

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