Why would it be good to know the 4th amendment? I had a recent client who was picked up on a drug charge. He was pulled over for a routine stop. His girlfriend was in the passenger seat. A “friend” was in the backseat. After the routine part of the stop was over, the officer asked permission to search the car. He knew his car was clean and figured he had nothing to hide, so he gave the officer permission to search the car. The officer found a small amount of drugs under the backseat, and his “friend” has no idea how it got there.
The lesson here, other than to choose your friends wisely, is never give police permission to search your car or home. There is nothing to gain by it.
There are two ways the police can search your car, home, or pockets without your permission. The first is for them to have a judge issue a warrant for a search. The other is if they have probable cause, meaning something they see or hear gives them reasonable suspicion to perform a search. Examples would be if there’s some type of contraband in plain site on the dashboard, or someone voluntarily admits to some type of criminal act.
But if you don’t give probable cause, the 4th Amendment to the Constitution protects you from unwarranted searches and seizures. The text of it reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
So be polite and respectful to the officer, he clearly state you don’t give permission for the search. Otherwise, if you give your consent to be searched and something illegal is found, then it can be used against you in court. If the police perform a search without your permission or probable cause, it may be thrown out in court.