A Warrantless Arrest in a Home is Generally Illegal

If the police enter a home without a warrant, any arrest is probably illegal, and all evidence obtained is subject to suppression.

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The judge should dismiss your case if the police violated your 4th Amendment Rights!

In Payton v. New York, the United States Supreme Court held an officer could not forcibly enter a home 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 enter the residence forcibly.

Despite common misconceptions about law enforcement powers 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. 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.”

For example, it is common for an officer 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 cases, the officer can get the warrant before arriving at the home, and the “exigency” never has to materialize.

If arrested in violation of the 4th Amendment right to be free from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures, a defendant can file a Motion to Suppress any evidence. When police make an unlawful arrest, they virtually always contemporaneously seize evidence. Any evidence taken based on an illegal or unjustified warrantless arrest in a home is subject to seizure under the 4th Amendment.

There is NO Automatic, Exigent Circumstances Exception for a Misdemeanor Arrest Without a Warrant

In a recent United States Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled that exigent circumstances do not generally justify entry into the home of a suspected misdemeanant. Specifically, the court ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, the pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always—that is, categorically—justify a warrantless entry into a home.

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Why are warrants usually required before police search a home in America?

In America, the requirement for police officers to obtain a search warrant before searching a home is rooted in the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This foundational principle reflects the American commitment to personal privacy and the belief that individuals should be free from arbitrary or unjustified government intrusions. Warrants ensure that any search or seizure is based on probable cause and are reviewed by an impartial and detached magistrate. By requiring law enforcement officers and agents to articulate specific reasons and obtain approval before entering and searching someone’s home, warrants act as a check on potential abuses of law enforcement’s power. This system of checks and balances also provides a clear framework for citizens and law enforcement, delineating when such searches are legally permissible and under what conditions. Overall, the warrant requirement upholds the balance between an individual’s right to privacy and the state’s need to ensure public safety and investigate criminal activity.

Why did the framers of the Constitution want to protect against unreasonable searches and seizures in our homes?

The makers of the Constitution were greatly influenced by their experiences under British colonial rule. During that time, the British government used general warrants and “writs of assistance” to search colonial homes and businesses without specific cause. These instruments allowed British officials to search properties almost indiscriminately, often under the pretext of enforcing tax laws or looking for smuggled goods. Such practices were seen as oppressive and a blatant violation of the colonists’ rights.

The framers viewed the home as a primary sanctuary of individual privacy and personal freedoms, and they believed that protecting against arbitrary intrusions by the government was crucial to safeguarding the liberty of the individual. The inclusion of protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment was a direct response to these colonial grievances. By establishing a constitutional guard against unwarranted government intrusion, the framers aimed to ensure that the newly formed United States would prioritize and uphold the principles of individual liberty, personal security, and property rights. They understood that without such protections, there was a risk that governmental power could become unchecked, leading to potential abuses and tyranny similar to what they had experienced under British rule.

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Lawyers for Search and Seizure Violations

When it comes to criminal law cases, an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a prison sentence and reduced or dismissed charges. Even in less serious and misdemeanor cases, a good criminal defense attorney can seriously impact the outcome of the case and protect the legal rights of the accused throughout the legal process. For these and other reasons, it is vital that those accused of a crime select the most competent, experienced, and effective attorney available.

An experienced, aggressive Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney can help someone charged with a crime or under investigation. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is Michigan’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm and can help anyone charged with or accused of committing a felony or misdemeanor criminal offense in Michigan.

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