Once the police gain entry into your house, you are very vulnerable. Anything they find that implies a violation of the law can give them grounds to continue searching your property.
Often, a search of your home is the result of a warrant signed by a judge. However, police also sometimes just search your home enter with permission. If they have probable cause to believe a crime is underway, they can also enter without a warrant or permission.
The only other time they can legally enter and search your property is when they are in hot pursuit of someone fleeing the scene of a crime. Officers who see someone run into a backyard will also go over the fence to continue their pursuit. When someone goes into a house or building, officers often follow. However, the Supreme Court recently limited the right of police officers to chase people on private property.
A drunk driving case limits warrantless entry due to misdemeanors
Sometimes, criminal cases go all the way to the Supreme Court. In a case that the courts ruled on in June 2021, a police officer tried to pull someone over for suspected drunk driving right by their driveway.
The individual pulled in the driveway and went into their garage. The police officer went under the garage door and then question the individual, finally arresting them for drunk driving. The defendant appealed their conviction all the way to the Supreme Court.
The unanimous ruling sent the matter back to the lower courts with guidance. The Supreme Court ruled that not all warrantless searches are legally permissible. Especially if the offense is a non-violent misdemeanor, officers may need to get a warrant to move forward, even if someone fled the scene of a crime.
Major court rulings can affect your rights in a criminal case
When the Supreme Court weighs in on law enforcement practices or criminal law, that can change the best way for people to respond to pending criminal charges. Those who endured pursuit by the police or whose home was subject to a questionable search may now have more ways to build their defense strategy.
Familiarizing yourself with important changes in police procedure and criminal law can help you if you need to defend yourself against criminal allegations.