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When Police Can Enter A Home Without A Warrant, The Supreme Court Sets Limits
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When Police Can Enter A Home Without A Warrant, The Supreme Court Sets Limits


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court limited the circumstances under which police officers pursuing a fleeing suspect can enter a home without a warrant on Wednesday.

When officers are pursuing someone suspected of a misdemeanor, or a less serious crime, the high court ruled that they cannot always enter a home without a warrant if the suspect enters.

The court previously stated that police in "hot pursuit" of a suspect suspected of a more serious crime, a felony, can enter a home without a warrant.

The case decided by the Supreme Court on Wednesday is significant for law enforcement as well as privacy advocates.

“The fleeing of a suspected misdemeanor does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home. An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency. On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter — to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home.

The case before the justices involved California resident Arthur Lange. One evening in 2016, an officer saw Lange driving his station wagon in Sonoma County, playing loud music and honking his horn several times. The officer believed those were noise violations punishable by small fines and followed Lange. The officer later turned on his car's lights to get Lange to stop.

The officer got out of his car and, as Lange's garage door closed, stuck his foot under it, causing it to reopen. Lange was eventually arrested after the officer smelled alcohol on his breath, and he was charged with driving under the influence as well as excessive noise.

Lange claimed that the officer's illegal entry into the garage violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Lange v. California, 20-18, is the name of the case.

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