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Police may not be allowed to pursue fleeing suspects into homes for minor offences in Supreme Court ruling

·1-min read
US Supreme Court (EPA)
US Supreme Court (EPA)

Police could be barred from following suspects into their homes unless there is an emergency, a Supreme Court ruling has suggested.

In a verdict on Wednesday, the court ruled that officers were required to seek a warrant to follow an individual into their home, and must do so on a case-by-case basis for minor offences, with few exceptions.

A lower court in California had previously ruled that no warrant was required in incidents involving harm, violence or the suspect fleeing from the scene of a crime, even after a minor offence was committed, CNN reported.

The case in court on Wednesday looked at whether officers were exempt from seeking a warrant even if they believed the individual had carried out only a minor offence.

Justice Elena Kagan said in the ruling: “The flight of a suspected misdemeanant does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home.

“An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency,” the justice added.

Citing evidence of violence, destruction or escape as a “good reason to enter”, the justice continued by saying that “when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so – even though the misdemeanant fled."

The ruling followed a case in California in which an officer pursued a driver to his front door for sounding his horn for no reason.

He was afterwards found to be intoxicated and faced charges, which his lawyer argued was wrong because there was not societal interest in following the driver to his home.

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