Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with search and seizure, specifically, exigent circumstances.
Over the years, both state and federal courts have granted limited exceptions to the warrant requirement. Generally, these are referred to as “exigent circumstances.”
So let me take you back to Constitutional Law 101. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution holds, quote “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” End quote.
Over the years, both state and federal courts have granted limited exceptions to the warrant requirement. Generally, these are referred to as “exigent circumstances.” Webster defines exigent as “requiring immediate aid or action.” With the exceptions to the warrant requirement available, I think we may sometimes think of the exceptions as the rule. Every single time that you enter a residence; every single time that you enter a closed business; every single time you enter a building or dwelling you should be thinking, “Why is this an exception to the warrant requirement?” You need to be able to clearly articulate the exception, the exigent circumstances. If you are unable to do this, then don’t make the entry.
In the past I’ve shied away from doing Today’s Tips on search and seizure since there is so much variance from state to state. However, regardless of jurisdiction, before any entry, it is common sense to ask “Do I have legal authority to make this entry?” And if the answer is “yes,” then make sure you are able to clearly articulate the factors that make the entry an “exigent circumstance.”
And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.