Warrantless Residential Entry by Cops Was Reasonable – State v. Laboo

Friday’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Laboo is an important step in the development of the law related to warrantless residential entries by the police. In Laboo, the Court ruled that a forced entry by the police into an occupied apartment without a warrant was justified as reasonable based upon probable cause, coupled with exigent circumstances. The case involved a police investigation into a series of armed robberies. During one of the robberies, a cell phone was taken. Police obtained a warrant from the Superior Court to track the cell phone signal. Within 30 minutes, the signal led the police to an apartment house and a particular apartment therein.

The police knocked on the apartment door and announced their presence. This caused panic within the apartment, evidenced by shouts from within and sounds of rapid movement. As a result, the police made a forced entry and recovered evidence inside that tied the occupants to the robberies.

The Court held that although the exigency was to some degree created by the police themselves, their actions were reasonable and supported by ample probable cause to believe that evidence related to the crimes could be located within the apartment.

Download a copy of State v. Laboo.

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