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Court limits “Hot Pursuit” doctrine

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Defense Process

Warrantless searches are often an issue in Florida criminal cases. Oftentimes, the police claim that they did not have the time to obtain a search warrant from a court based on probable cause. Whether a warrantless search is legally permissible is a decision made afterwards based on the facts as the officer saw them. A recent Supreme Court decision has limited some of their powers.

There are limits on the police’s right to search

Police can conduct searches when they are pursuing a suspect for a crime once they arrest the suspect. However, they do not have a blanket right to make these searches. In this case that went in front of the Court, police were investigated a suspect for a misdemeanor. They pursued the suspect into his home, and they proceeded to enter his garage. Police had followed him home when they suspected him of driving under the influence.

Here, the police had time to get a warrant

The Supreme Court held that police could have had the time to get a warrant before they entered the suspect’s home. Generally, SCOTUS hesitates to make any type of bright-line rule in Fourth Amendment cases. Instead, the court considers things on a case-by-cases basis. Had police allowed this search, it would have created a very broad exception to the Fourth Amendment that officers could frequently use to erode a suspect’s protections under the Constitution. This case could cut back on some of the abilities that police officers have to conduct searches under the “hot pursuit” doctrine. Courts may still consider whether officers had enough time to obtain a warrant based on probable cause. If this is an issue in your case, a criminal defense attorney could advise you on whether you may be able to have evidence thrown out in court.