Supreme Court Restricts Police Powers To Enter A Home Without A Warrant

  • Supreme Court Restricts Police Powers To Enter A Home Without A Warrant

Supreme Court Restricts Police Powers To Enter A Home Without A Warrant

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday for a California motorist who said a police officer violated his privacy rights by following him home and then into his garage, where he was given a ticket for drunk driving.

In its brief to the Supreme Court, the California Department of Justice argued against categorically applying a "hot-pursuit" exception to the warrant requirement in the misdemeanor context, noting that it would be contrary to the historical evidence regarding the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

The court's ruling came in the case of Arthur Lange, who was playing loud music in his auto late one night, at one point honking his horn several times. The justices were unanimous in the result but differed on the reasoning. "We should not impose it", Roberts wrote Lange was confronted inside his garage by officer Aaron Weikert in 2016. The ruling was issued at a time of heightened scrutiny of police powers and use of force in the United States after several high-profile incidents in recent years involving the actions of law enforcement. He drew the attention of a CHP officer who began following him. The officer later turned on his car's lights to get Lange to stop.

The officer got out of his vehicle and, as Lange's garage door was closing, stuck his foot under the door so it would re-open.

A lower court decision had held that no warrant was ever required in such a circumstance. Lange was ultimately arrested after the officer smelled alcohol on his breath, and he was charged with driving under the influence as well as an excessive noise offense. Lange pleaded no contest to the DUI offense and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation. Lange then asked the Supreme Court to rule that police officers can not evade the warrant requirement when chasing someone to their home when the underlying conduct constitutes a misdemeanor offense.

Usually police may not enter private property unless they have a warrant or are responding to an emergency, including a so-called hot pursuit of a fleeing felon.

She added: "Because the California Court of Appeal applied the categorical rule we reject today, we vacate its judgment and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion".