Police officers have to follow certain rules when they investigate crimes or attempt to enforce the law. The Fourth Amendment, for example, limits the ability of police officers to search people’s bodies or their property.
Typically, a police officer needs to have either someone’s permission or a warrant to search a house. However, during a pursuit, police officers can enter private property without permission or a warrant. For years, police pursuits have been a source of contention during criminal proceedings because they often impact the civil rights of others beyond the person being chased by the police.
Police officers have entered the wrong home by accident and then arrested people or even shot dogs belonging to innocent citizens because they entered a property without permission. Even if they enter the wrong property, the police have historically used a pursuit to justify all forms of misconduct.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in a way that will restrict police pursuits and affect people’s criminal defense options.
What did the Supreme Court decide?
In June of 2021, the Supreme Court handed down a decision on a criminal case. Essentially, the majority decision for the Court held that it is inappropriate for police officers to conduct warrantless searches and ongoing pursuit due to simple misdemeanor offenses.
Aggressive pursuit is sometimes necessary when the person fleeing represents an immediate threat of harm to the public or has committed a serious felony. However, police officers may not be able to search homes or arrest people if they pursue someone because of a misdemeanor anymore.
Contacting an attorney who knows about the changes to criminal court rules and police procedures can help you protect yourself from criminal charges.