Muni-mail – SCOTUS Announces New Rule for Warrantless Home Entry – Kentucky v King

[0/5/22/11 – 12:04 am] Last Monday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police officers do not create their own exigent circumstances by knocking and announcing their intention to make a warrantless entry into a residence in order to prevent the destruction of evidence. In a case captioned Kentucky v. King, the Justices described how police officers in Lexington, Kentucky, followed a suspected drug dealer to an apartment complex. The cops smelled marijuana outside anapartment door, knocked loudly, and announced their presence. As soon as the officers began knocking, they heard noises coming from the apartment; the officers believed that these noises were consistent with the destruction of evidence. The officers announced their intent to enter the apartment, kicked in the door, and found respondent and others. They saw drugs in plain view during a protective sweep of the apartment and found additional evidence during a subsequent search.
The Justices noted that normally, the combination of probable cause and exigent circumstances will permit police to make a warrantless entry into a residence. Once exception to this rule of law occurs when the exigent circumstances have been created by the police themselves as a result of their investigative techniques, However, in the King case, the Court ruled that when the police act reasonably by neither violating nor threatening to violate the 4th Amendment, they do not create their own exigent circumstances. In this case, the fact that the police knocked and announced their presence was reasonable and did not create any police-initiated exigency.

Download a copy of Kentucky v. King.

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