Supreme Court decides a Fourth Amendment case

Tennessee defendants will often challenge the legality of evidence being used against them in their criminal proceedings. What is legal under the Fourth Amendment changes over time as the Supreme Court continuously reinterprets the Constitution. A recent decision covers situations in which the officer pursues the fleeing suspect into their home.

There are exceptions to the requirement for a warrant

Police officers like emergency situations, specifically to use them as an excuse for a warrantless search. The general rule is that officers need to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to execute a search. When there is a risk of destruction or loss of evidence, or if the officer is in “hot pursuit” of the suspect, police have more flexibility to search on the spot. In one California case, the suspect committed a minor offense, and police followed him back to his garage. They entered and executed a search, seizing evidence in the process.

There is no bright-line rule for misdemeanors

The Supreme Court looked at the scope of the “hot pursuit” doctrine. There is no exception that keeps officers from doing a search based on a minor offense. Whether they could enter the home depends on the facts and circumstances of the situation. Officers must consider whether there is an emergency in each particular case. There could be an emergency, even when dealing with a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. This reverses the decision of a lower court that said that officers did not need a warrant in a misdemeanor situation.

If you have been charged with a crime, whether evidence is admissible could decide your entire case. This is why you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested. The lawyer could work to protect your legal rights in your case.

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