Fourth Amendment

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizure, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause.”  – Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution 

Searches and Seizures

Search: A search occurs when there is an intrusion to your body or property

Seizure: A seizure occurs when an officer restrains your movement by physical force or showing of authority.


Reasonable is a fluid term that is used throughout the law.  Lawyers often use this concept to make their arguments.  In order to determine if something is reasonable, you must look at all of the facts surrounding the situation.  Paying attention to how you personally understand the situation, but even more so how someone on the outside looking in would understand the situation.  Reasonableness asks the question, “how would a reasonable person understand this situation?”


Probable Cause

Searches or seizures are generally only reasonable when probable cause is present. Probable cause looks at the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation.  When the facts and circumstances lead a reasonable person to believe a crime has been committed.  A search or seizure that takes place without a warrant/probable cause is unreasonable from the start.  There are exceptions to this rule which citizens should be aware of.  Consent is a common exception to the probable cause rule.  You will find additional information on our site related to other exceptions such as stop and frisk and the automobile exceptions.

Related Articles:

  1.  Arizona-  Arizona v. Primous (Reasonable Suspicion) 5.28.17 pdf (2) (Ariz. 2017).