The Fourth Amendment is commonly referred to as the Illegal Search and Seizure Clause. This clause basically makes each person king oe queen of their own home and prevents the government from arbitrarily ransacking a home in a wild goose chase for evidence that may or may not be present.
This protection was born out of the British intrusions during the Revolutionary War in searches for rebels and munitions.
Question No 1: Do I have to give an officer permission to enter my home if they ask?
Answer: No. If an officer simply requests permission to enter your house, it is your decision whether or not you want to grant the officer entry.
The Fourth Amendment does not give law enforcement officials the right to enter your home without your permission unless they have probably cause of an immediate threat. Otherwise, they have to obtain a search warrant where they have been given permission by a judge who would have to agree that there is sufficient concern to search the premises if the homeowner does not voluntarily grant permission.
Question No. 2: If my home is searched, can an investigator look for anything and everything?
Answer: No. Upon acquiring a search warrant, the Fourth Amendment makes it clear that there has to be specificity to the area being searched and the specific items being sought. A search warrant is not simply a “blank check” to ransack a home in the hopes of finding anything that could be considered illegal or lead to charges. If items were not listed on a search warrant and were used as evidence, it is highly likely that the case would be dismissed since the evidence was illegally seized.
These rights also extend beyond a home and to a person in public as well. No person has to be asked to empty their pockets without their first being probable cause or a search warrant being issued. Just walking down the street does not provide probable cause.
And, a warrant must be specific on what is being searched even upon searching someone’s pockets.
The Fourth Amendment defines another right, the right of privacy.