A Fourth Amendment Mistake the Supreme Court Should Fix
The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officials to get a warrant before searching a suspect’s person or property. Alas, the courts have concocted a number of dubious exceptions to that constitutional safeguard.
The California Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate Division, offers a recent case in point. In California v. Lange (2019), that court ruled that a police offer may enter a suspect’s home without a warrant if the officer is in pursuit of the suspect and has probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a misdemeanor.
The court’s ruling invoked a legal doctrine known as the “hot pursuit” exception. In short, it says that if a police officer is chasing a suspected violent felon—such as a murderer or a terrorist—the officer need not stop to get a warrant before following that suspect into the suspect’s home.
The California court took the “hot pursuit” exception and ran it off the constitutional cliff. Arthur Gregory Lange was not suspected of anything that even remotely resembled a violent or dangerous
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