If you assume that the cops always need a warrant to enter someone’s home or property, then we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you’re wrong. In reality, cops need a warrant to enter or search a premises almost all of the time, but there are a few exceptions. Yes, that’s right – even her in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit cops can sometimes enter your house without a warrant! Surprised? Many people are.
What are your rights as a citizen of the US?
We want to start by pointing out that the 4th Amendment to our U. S. Constitution protects all of us from unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution goes on to detail the required process for the police to get a search warrant. By the way, Michigan’s Constitution has the same requirements as the Constitution of the United States.
However, there are exceptions to the search warrant requirements. Some of these exceptions are called “exigent circumstances,” and they refer to at least two very specific circumstances. Specifically, when an officer is in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, or there is a “life threatening emergency” that the officer is responding to. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these two specific scenarios, here’s the break down.
This term refers to an officer who is in the middle of pursuing a suspect. Imagine this… an officer is in pursuit of a bank robber in Kent County. The robber, in an effort to evade police, crashes their car into a fence and then jumps out of the car and runs. However, they’re in a Grand Rapids neighborhood, and so they crash through the door of the nearest house and cut through it, hoping to save time and confuse the pursuing officers.
The police officer who is chasing the bank robber is within his rights to chase the suspect right through that house, despite the fact that he didn’t have a warrant to enter the house. Because he was in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, he couldn’t stand around and wait for the court in Kent County to grant him a warrant to run through the house and keep up with the bank robber.
This is when an officer is responding to a 911 call for help, or to a situation where they believe someone’s life may be in danger. For example, if an officer was called to an address in Lansing because someone there called 911 due to a life threatening emergency, the responding officer could enter without a court order.
In the same way, if an officer heard gun shots, screams, or pleas for help coming from a certain house as they passed by, they would have the right to enter that home without a warrant. Why? Because someone’s life may be in danger, and they don’t have to wait on the Ingham County Court to grant them permission.
What does this mean for you?
Well, if an officer was pursuing a suspect, and that suspect fled right through your window and through your house, the pursuing officer would have the right to follow them right into your home. And if while running through your home, the officer happened to see a pile of cocaine on a mirror in the dining room, a person tied to a chair in your bedroom, or a child with severe bruising on their body, they would have the right to stop and investigate. Or, more likely, to report what they saw while still in pursuit, so that a different officer is quickly dispatched to your house to investigate.
We’ve detailed a couple of exceptions to the search warrant requirement. These are not a complete list of those exceptions. In short, only a legal expert will understand these exceptions, the exceptions to the exceptions and the nuances that pertain to each of them. This isn’t something to guess at. And our criminal defense attorneys always caution against getting legal advice from your plumber, barber, best friend or car mechanic. Their legal advice is almost always wrong.
Did a cop see something questionable in your home?
If an officer entered your Michigan home for any reason, and is now investigating you for alleged criminal behavior based on what they saw, you need to call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245! (1 877-7NoJail) Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can determine if the police had the right to be in your home at the time or to search your home or car, and if the evidence they’ve collected against you was legally obtained. Don’t wait! The sooner we begin, the sooner we can ensure that your rights are properly protected.