If any officer would have believed someone in the house was in urgent need of assistance, this officer can enter without a warrant.

Well, her description of the law was accurate, at least.

I’m not so sure I’d have agreed with her analysis,
but it was good enough for the judge. Onward!

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Join the conversation! There are now 15 comments on “Police vs Privacy pg 107
  1. Jason says

    If it weren’t for rulings like this, it’s likely that appeals courts would have nothing to do.

  2. Alex says

    I see some lawyers are channelling their inner Phoenix Wright. I know what’s written on the page, but in my heart, they’re yelling “OBJECTION!” and “HOLD IT!”

  3. David S. says

    It seems like a question of evidence; would the officer reasonably believe that was a freshly kicked-in door in the heat of action, which would really take looking at the door.

    And who lives in a house and doesn’t get a kicked-in door fixed? At least quickly patched up, so the door isn’t hanging open?

  4. quoodle says

    The DA was getting dramatic for purposes of arguing the case, I would imagine. Any chance she can take to say the defendant had committed crime. Repeat it enough and it affects how people look at things. Unfortunately for her, there’s no jury here, just a to the point judge.

    In reality, does it matter if the cop’s still looking for the guy or not? He could have been looking for him, see a crime more pressing (burglary or a home invasion) and move onto that – He just happened to be able to connect the dots once he found him.

      • This is a suppression hearing, not a trial. Two very different things.

        The hearing is strictly for the judge to decide whether law enforcement obeyed the rules in gathering its evidence. If the rules were obeyed and the defendant’s rights were respected, then the prosecution gets to use the evidence at trial. Otherwise not.

        The trial is where the evidence gets presented to a jury, under strict rules of what gets presented and how. The jury then decides whether the evidence that they got to see proves (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendant committed each of the elements of the crime he’s charged with.

        We’ll get to all this later in the section on advanced criminal procedure (the stuff that happens after you’re formally charged with a crime). Right now in basic crim pro, we’re just going through the rules that apply to law enforcement in gathering its evidence.

  5. I have no sympathy for the perp, but the DA’s argument is lame. If the guy had bothered to perform some basic door maintenance, he would have gotten away with this.

    • Probably not. They just would have likely had to get a warrant in that case. It was pretty clear that he was hiding out within a small group of houses (since footprints only lead to those houses). You close the area off to make it reasonably certain he isn’t going to leave the area, you can quite likely get a warrant to check those houses out.

      • If they only saw him in the bike helmet, then after he changes clothes he can probably walk out without being identified.

  6. Gregory Bogosian says

    If the busted lock really was “old damage” then there is no way for the police to have known who kicked the door in, and therefore there is no way for them to know that it was the defendant who kicked in the door. So really the busted lock by itself is not evidence that that house did not belong to the defendant.

    • The point is that there was /no way for the cop to know that at the time/. It matters what it COULD have looked like, not what the facts /actually were/. We’ve already covered this one several times. If you are acting sincerely(and have reasonable proof thereof) then you can get away with otherwise serious offenses(such as crushing a house to prevent a fire from spreading). We already know the same applies to law enforcement, so why wouldn’t it apply to fourth amendment rights?

      In this case, the officer /believed/ that the inhabitents of the house were in danger due the broken door. he went in investigating that, and came up with his perp.

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