Warrantless entry is a scary thought. The times when police may and may not enter our homes are covered by the Fourth Amendment.
Nevertheless, exceptions do exist.
Most of the time if police want to enter your home they need a warrant. If it’s an arrest warrant it must list the specific person they’re looking for. If it’s a search warrant it must list exactly what they intend to search and what they will seize if they find it.
Any time the police have time to get a warrant they are required to do so. There are very few exceptions that cover instances where the police might, legitimately, not have time.
There are specific exceptions.
The first is the hot pursuit exception. If police have witnessed you committing a felony they may chase you into a private house to make the arrest. They may do this to prevent you from escaping, hiding, or destroying the evidence.
As of the 2018 case Lange v. California, police officers may not use the hot pursuit exception while pursuing a misdemeanor offense.
The second is the invitation exception. If an adult in your household invites the police in, then they can come in, and they can act on anything they see or hear within the home.
Third, there is the “exigent circumstances” exception. In Caniglia v. Strom, the courts defined this as an exception where police officers are taking “reasonable steps to assist those who are inside a home and in need of aid,” such as when they are entering to help an elderly person who has fallen or to prevent a potential suicide.
We can’t discuss warrantless entry without also touching on the existence of a no-knock warrant.
These warrants are search warrants which allow police officers to enter without knocking or announcing their presence. The courts issue these when they have reason to believe that forcing the police to knock and announce themselves would either lead to the destruction of the objects the police are searching for, or would compromise the safety of the police or another individual.
These warrants are often issued in drug cases.
If the police entered your home without a warrant and their entry did not fall under the few specific exceptions that exist, then your arrest might not be valid and all the evidence they obtained may be thrown out. Police misconduct can provide a strong defense in many cases.
To successfully implement this defense you will need a private criminal lawyer who has the time and focus to devote to making your case. Here at Greco Neyland we have vast expertise in these sorts of cases, and we can help you. If you’re in trouble, schedule a consultation with us today.
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