The 4th Amendment of the United States

The right to privacy and the right against unreasonable search and seizure is a constitutional right that has been protected for many years by the 4th Amendment of the United States. Although this right is protected by the constitution there have been many instances in which police have not adhered to this federal law. Toby Wayne Zimmerman is an example of an American who was not given their constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. Rodriguez v. United States, Florida v.

Jardines, etc are all instances where the police were in the wrong for the way the they conducted their searches without probable cause. Similar cases to that of Zimmerman’s will show that his 4th Amendment rights were indeed violated.

Toby Wayne Zimmerman was a man who had his constitutional rights violated by a Sheriff’s Deputy. Mr. Zimmerman was driving when he was pulled over by an officer for a “mud-flap violation.” Deputies have admitted that they use this as a tactic to further search vehicles for any illegal substances.

The Deputy gives Zimmerman a warning for the violation (it is Texas law that at the end of a traffic stop transaction, the officer is not authorized to unreasonably detain the driver of the vehicle.) The Deputy then asks Mr. Zimmerman if he may search his vehicle. The defendant exercises his constitutional right and declines the Deputy’s request to search his vehicle. The Deputy tells Zimmerman that he is free to go, but that his car will be detained until it can be checked out by a K-9 Unit.

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It is later noted that the Deputy’s own report shows that he had had no knowledge or hint of Zimmerman illegally transporting drugs. Without this knowledge and without probable cause Zimmerman was denied his 4th Amendment rights. The Deputy was in violation of his own authority by unconstitutionally seizing the vehicle.

Furthermore, Terry v. Ohio is an important case that relates to the 4th Amendment. However, this is a case in favor of the police officer that shows how to correctly search for illegal weapons or substances. A Cleveland detective by the name of McFadden was patrolling when observed two strangers. He claimed to have witnessed the two men observing the same store window repeatedly. He believed that they were preparing for a robbery. The officer saw them join a third stranger. The officer confronted the three men and identified himself as a policeman. McFadden asked for their names and then turned them all around and patted down their outside clothing. The officer found a pistol in the Petitioner’s coat pocket and attained a revolver from Chilton’s coat pocket. All three men were transported to the police station. Petitioner and Chilton were then charged with the possession of concealed weapons. A lot of people may question this at first but this court case states that this officer had the right to search these men because he thought they had a weapon that would threaten his safety. Unlike the Zimmerman case this officer was within boundaries of the 4th Amendment.

Likewise, Rodriguez v. United States is another important case that is related to the 4th Amendment. On March 27, 2012, Dennys Rodriguez was pulled over by a Nebraska K-9 police officer after his vehicle swerved onto the shoulder of the freeway. The officer gave Rodriguez a written warning and then proceeded to ask if he could have his K-9 search the vehicle. Rodriguez under his constitutional right, refused. The officer had his dog search the vehicle anyways. The dog found meth in the vehicle. Rodriguez claimed that the officer denied him his right against unlawful search and seizure and appealed his case. It was after this appeal that the Court decided that after the completion of a lawful traffic stop the use of a drug dog surpassed the time required to deal with the situation and therefore violates Mr. Rodriguez’s 4th Amendment right. This too supports Zimmerman because his mud flap stop situation was also a lawful traffic stop.

Reasonable Suspicion is a standard commonly used in criminal procedure. Terry v. Ohio and Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada were two cases that solidified this ideology. According to the Legal Information Institute courts require that the officer has either a search warrant, probable cause to search, or a reasonable suspicion in that order. If none of these criteria are met then it would be classified an unlawful. In Zimmerman’s case the Deputy didn’t meet any of this criteria.

Similarly, Brinegar v. United States was a big court case during the 1930s in regards to the 4th Amendment. According to Justia, Brinegar was convicted of a violation against the Liquor Enforcement Act of 1936(Justia, Brinegar). He was charged for smuggling liquor into Oklahoma. He challenged this notion because he claimed that this had gone against his 4th Amendment rights. Upon the court date of the petitioner’s appeal it had been revealed that the federal agent who searched his vehicle had caught and arrested Brinegar in the past for smuggling liquor. The federal agent claims that he had seen Brinegar load liquor into a vehicle twice. It was said that this had occured in states where liquor purchase was legal. The agent believed that the petitioner’s car was heavily loaded with illegal substances. Brinegar was then pursued by the agent where he was forced onto the side of the road. As it stood this was an unconstitutional search and seizure, but because Brinegar admitted to having twelve case of liquor in the vehicle it gave the agent all he needed in the court of law regardless of the previous circumstances. This supports Zimmerman because he didn’t admit to anything, therefore the search and seizure against him was unlawful.

In addition, United States v. Robinson adds to the long list of 4th Amendment related court cases that support Zimmerman. Mr. Robinson was pulled over by a police officer because he was operating a motor vehicle without a proper permit. After he was pulled over, the officer began to frisk Mr. Robinson until he discovered a crushed cigarette container in which there were fourteen vials of illegal heroin in his pocket. Mr. Robinson took this case to court where it had eventually reached the United States Supreme Court. The court ruled that the frisking of Robinson was not in violation of the 4th Amendment because “the officer did not conduct the search in an abusive or extreme manner, and because he acted consistent with the authority vested in a police officer when making an arrest, his actions were legitimate.” (Oyez) This case also shows how a policeman frisked the correct way whereas Zimmerman was not searched in a constitutional manner.


  1. ‘United States v. Robinson.’ Oyez, 27 Nov. 2018,
  2. Lastly, Florida v. Jardines is the final case that would support Mr. Zimmerman and his fight for his 4th Amendment rights.
  3. ‘Florida v. Jardines.’ Oyez, 27 Nov. 2018,

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The 4th Amendment of the United States. (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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