The Fourth Amendment is not an airtight prohibition against all searches of Indiana residents without a warrant. Instead, there are exceptions that allow an officer to conduct warrantless searches based on exigencies. However, the Supreme Court occasionally reminds the police that there are limits to this power.
LIMITS TO WARRANTLESS SEARCHES OF HOMES
The highest court in our land recently issued a decision in which it reminded law enforcement that there are more limited rights to conduct a warrantless search in a home than there are in a vehicle. There is a “community caretaking exception” that allows police to enter homes to render aid. In this case, the local police used it to enter a man’s home when there were fears over his well-being because he was contemplating suicide. They seized his guns, and he filed a lawsuit.
LOWER STANDARDS FOR SEARCHES OF VEHICLES
The government had tried to argue for a broad power to search homes. However, the Supreme Court did not buy the government’s argument, stating that there is more of an expectation of privacy in a home than there is in a vehicle. When the justices had previously allowed warrantless searches under the community caretaking exception, it was in vehicles. Based on this decision, there is now considerable uncertainty going forward about when police can enter homes to conduct a search. This decision may have raised more questions than it answered because police were trying to prevent a suicide in these circumstances.
Even though the police will always try to find a way to justify it, there are numerous possible challenges to a warrantless search of your property. If your case involves evidence, you need a criminal law attorney to help assess whether you have a valid defense based on an illegal seizure of the item.