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Community Caretaking Searches

Community Caretaking Searches

Few of the safeguards granted to individuals in the United States under the Bill of Rights are more vociferously defended than the Fourth Amendment guaranteeing protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. This is especially the case where the entry of private residences is concerned.

April 7, 2016

Entries and Civil Liability

Entries and Civil Liability

Fortunately, the Supreme Court recently overturned two federal court rulings that had exposed officers to potential liability in cases involving warrantless entries.

July 7, 2015

Search Warrant Basics

Search Warrant Basics

There are good reasons why officers need to become more comfortable with writing search warrant applications, and to delay non-emergency searches until warrants can be obtained.

April 28, 2015

Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

Just when it looks like a rule is finally refined to the point of general understanding, the Supreme Court takes an unexpected turn, as it recently did on the subject of searching an arrestee's cell phone incident to his arrest.

July 11, 2014

Searching “Fleeting Targets”
Search Warrant Detentions

Search Warrant Detentions

When you make a search of premises under authority of a search warrant, it is generally permissible to detain the occupants pending completion of the search. The authority to do so, and the rationale supporting detention, were limited by a 2013 decision.

April 30, 2013

Entry to Secure

Entry to Secure

As previous "Point of Law" articles have discussed, there are four—and only four—legal justifications for entering private premises. For several reasons, the preferred authority for entry is a judicial warrant.

December 10, 2012

How to Tell When You Need a Search Warrant

The general rule-of-thumb is to try to get a warrant whenever possible. On the other hand, if you can seize evidence without engaging in a search, you don't need either a warrant or any exception.

March 1, 2008

Residential Entry After Outdoors Arrest

There are four ways to make a lawful entry into a private home. Notice that "entry incident to outdoors arrest" is not on the list of lawful ways to get inside a residence. In three separate cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has held such entries to be unconstitutional.

February 1, 2008

Knock Notice After Hudson

Never mind the headlines and the editorials proclaiming that the Supreme Court did away with the knock-and-announce requirement for execution of search warrants in the recent case of Hudson v. Michigan. The court did no such thing.

August 1, 2006

Entry to Quell a Disturbance

Any law enforcement entry into private premises, including a residence, or an office or other commercial area that is not open to the public, is governed by the Fourth Amendment. Officers may make lawful entry only in four ways, and the consequences of unlawful entry can include suppression of evidence and civil liability.

July 1, 2006

Anticipatory Search Warrants

Can you get a search warrant in advance that will authorize you to enter and search for the suspected items once the designated time arrives or the triggering event occurs? According to a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the answer is, yes.

June 1, 2006

Searching Third-Party Residences

Most officers are aware of the general rule on entering a suspect's home to arrest him or to search for evidence. These actions must be supported by either valid consent or a recognized exigency.

August 1, 2005

Holding Back Home Occupants

When you go into a suspect’s home to execute a search warrant, it’s not uncommon to find several people present, whether suspects, family members, or others. Sometimes, occupants may outnumber officers on the scene. This can create problems of safety and control, making it more difficult to carry out the search. Realizing this, the Supreme Court has provided guidelines on the ability of officers to detain, handcuff, and question occupants while a search takes place.

May 1, 2005

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