Entry into a Residence by the Police Generally Requires a Search Warrent

Entry into a residence to make an arrest generally requires a search warrant.


The statutory authority to enter a residence to make an arrest can be found in MCL 764.21.  This statute applies when police have been refused admittance to a residence where the suspect is reasonably suspected to be located.  It allows an officer to forcibly enter a residence to make an arrest pursuant to any arrest warrant, or for a felony without a warrant.  However, courts have restricted use of the statute as described below.    


Felony Arrests With an Arrest Warrant:  In Payton v. New York, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a valid felony arrest warrant allows police to enter a suspect’s residence to make the arrest when there is reason to believe the suspect is inside.   Without an Arrest Warrant:  Unless exigent circumstances exist, police may not enter a residence to make a warrantless felony arrest (Payton).  This is the rule no matter who owns the residence and whether or not the suspect is inside.  Examples of exigent circumstances justifying entry include hot pursuit and significant and apparent danger to the public or police.


Misdemeanor Arrests The Michigan Court of Appeals has held that MCL 764.21 does not authorize entry into a residence for a warrantless misdemeanor arrest (People v. Reinhardt).  The Payton rule applies to arrests with a misdemeanor warrant. Third Party Residences When the person named in an arrest warrant is located inside a residence owned by a third party, the rule is simple: Officers must obtain a search warrant or consent before making entry.   Both the U.S. Supreme Court (Steagald v. United States) and the Michigan Court of Appeals (People v. Stark) have held that arrest warrants do not authorize entry into third party residences – even when officers are certain the wanted person is inside.