Forcible entry into a home to effectuate a warrantless arrest is generally illegal.

In Payton v. New York, the United States Supreme Court held an officer cannot forcibly enter a residence to make a warrantless felony arrest unless exigent circumstances are present, regardless of whether there is a State statute that gives the officer the authority to forcibly enter to the residence.

Despite common misconceptions about the powers of law enforcement in Michigan, the law (MCL 764.21) does not automatically authorize a police officer to make a forcible entry into a home to effectuate a warrantless felony arrest. Exigent circumstances must exist before a police officer can make a forcible, non-consensual entry into a residence to effectuate a warrantless felony arrest. Examples of exigent circumstances include hot pursuit, substantial need to prevent a suspect’s escape, and significant and apparent danger to the police or others.  Officers regularly make up or exaggerate facts to justify a warrantless entry by claiming “exigent circumstances.”

It is common for officer, for example, to claim that they believed a suspect would destroy evidence if the officers took time to get a warrant.  This type of excuse if frequently a pretext and the alleged emergency or exigency is only created when the officers approach the home and attempt to force entry.  In most of these cases the officer can get the warrant before arriving at the home and the “exigency” never has to materialize.


In the event that an arrest is made in violation of a defendant’s right to be free from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures pursuant to the 4th Amendment, a defendant can file a Motion to Suppress any evidence that is gathered during the arrest and the unlawful search that is almost certain to occur contemporaneously with the arrest.


An experienced, aggressive Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney should be consulted any time someone is charged with a crime or being investigated relative to a criminal charge. 


LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is Michigan’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm and is available to help anyone charged with or accused of commiting a felony or misdemeanor criminal offense in Michigan.


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