Police officers don’t always need a warrant to enter your home. Reality isn’t quite like TV.
“While many people enjoy watching police shows on TV that deal with how the cops apprehend a criminal and how they have to get a warrant to go to a person’s place to arrest them, etc., this isn’t always the reality,” said Miller Leonard, a Denver federal criminal defense lawyer and state criminal defense lawyer.
On TV the officers are usually greeted at the door by someone that says “Where’s your warrant?” It’s a fair question, because in ‘most’ circumstances, the police ‘do’ need a warrant to enter a person’s property. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as there are with most things that deal with legal matters.
One exception is something called an exigent circumstance and it lets the police enter without a warrant, or if they have a knock and announce warrant, go in without knocking and waiting for a refusal. However, the qualifier here is that they can only do this if people are in imminent danger, if a suspect will escape or if evidence may be destroyed. There isn’t a standard test for figuring out if those kinds of circumstances exist. In fact, exigent circumstance is pretty much determined on a case-by-case basis based on the information present at the time the decision needs to be made.
“What this really all boils down to is that if law enforcement thinks someone in a home needs assistance, and because of that emergency the officers didn’t have time to get to a judge to get a warrant, then that is acceptable. And no, police don’t need ironclad proof of a life threatening situation to go ahead and use the emergency aid exception,” added Leonard, a Denver federal criminal defense lawyer and state criminal defense lawyer.
The test, if one wants to call it that, is whether the police thought that there was an objective reason to believe that medical help was needed or that people were in danger. This particular test was affirmed in a recent Supreme Court decision in the Michigan v. Jeremy Fisher case. “Just goes to show you that you can’t always believe what you see on the tube,” commented Leonard, “ and when in doubt, that is the time to call a competent defense attorney and start asking some pointed questions.”
To learn more, visit http://www.fedcrimdef.com or call 303.623.2721.