Your Fourth Amendment Rights May Protect You From Government Intrusion When At Your Home
The Supreme Court ruled in a case upholding a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights in a recent case of Lange vs California, in which police officers entered a person’s garage and cited him for driving while intoxicated.
In the case, Lang was followed home by a California Highway Patrol officer because he was playing loud music on his car radio. The officer put on his flashing lights just a few yards before Lang reached their driveway. When the suspect did not pull over and instead went inside of his garage, the officer followed Lang onto his property and began to question him. The officer smelled alcohol on Lang’s breath and wrote him a citation for driving under the influence and issued an infraction for operating a vehicle’s sound system at excessive levels. Driving under the influence is a misdemeanor charge. The question before the United States Supreme Court was whether a police officer can enter your home or garage without a warrant to investigate you for a crime.
Is a Warrant Really Needed for a Misdemeanor?
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also forbids the police from entering a driveway or home unless it is a true emergency. Therefore, police officers often need a warrant before entering one’s home without the permission of the suspect. On many occasions, the officer may have good and legally justified reason to enter your home without a warrant. This could be to prevent serious harm or death to a person or destruction of evidence, or if a person who had committed a felony is trying to escape. However, when a police officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so. This rule applies even when an officer believes that a person has committed a misdemeanor and has reached their home or garage.
The Supreme Court stated in People vs. Lang that “the need to pursue a misdemeanor does not trigger a categorical rule allowing home entry, even absent a law enforcement agency. When the nature of the crime, the nature of the flight, and surrounding facts present no such exigency, officers must respect the sanctity of the home”. This means that a police officer has no right to enter your home while pursuing you for an alleged misdemeanor violation in California. They must get a warrant from a judge beforehand. The police are, however, allowed to enter your home without a warrant if you were attempting to flee the scene for a felony crime.
Contact an Experienced Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you are in for a tough legal fight. That is why you should not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich. Our skilled criminal lawyers have 40 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with all crimes. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will use every legal defense strategy available to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-4279 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.