Exigent circumstances refer to the existing exceptions to general warrant requirements as enshrined by the Fourth Amendment seizures and searches. Such situations occur whenever law enforcement officers have probable causes but no adequate time to obtain a warrant, particularly in urgent circumstances. Oftentimes, courts determine the reasonableness of an officer to make warrantless seizures and searches (Slobogin 72). Put differently, courts have the responsibility of determining whether it was impractical for an officer to obtain a warrant. For instance, it would be reasonable for an officer to make warrantless seizure of armed suspects or those planning to run away. Exigent circumstances may also be occurs when an officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect involved in criminal activities. In exigent circumstances, serious and imminent threat to life and property, evidence destruction and escape of suspects occur. Most people understand that officers encountering exigent circumstances must be allowed to act reasonably with the intent of defusing the situation.
The purpose of this research paper is to examine exigent circumstances. More specifically, the research paper will provide a succinct explanation of the historical evolution of exigent circumstances as provided for by the Fourth Amendment. The research paper will also examine the role of the doctrine of exigent circumstances in the criminal justice system. In addition, the research paper will look into the underlying concepts of exigent circumstances. The balancing test vis-à-vis the exigent circumstances will be analyzed. After this analysis, the research paper will delve into emergency situations versus exigent circumstances as well as constitutional provisions and constitutional protections under the current legal framework. Moreover, the research paper will look at the doctrine of exigent circumstances in Texas. An analysis of the use of the doctrine of exigent circumstances in other criminal justice systems will also be very important. Lastly, the research paper will scrutinize the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the doctrine of exigent circumstances in Texas and other jurisdictions.
The Fourth Amendment in the United States (U.S.) protects people’s rights to ensure that they are secure in their own houses against any unreasonable seizures and searches. Denying admission of evidence gathered through unlawful search helps in ensuring that officers adhere to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. In most situations, law officers must obtain a search warrant before getting a suspect’s house whenever they intend to carry an arrest and conduct a search (Kessler 112). However, there exist many circumstances where obtaining a warrant is unreasonable. These are the exigent circumstances. Law enforcers must act reasonably in the event of imminent and serious dangers. During exigent circumstances, officers take a forcible, non-consensual and warrantless entry into houses. Primarily, failure to take significant actions can lead to evidence destruction, loss of lives, property destruction or escape of violet and desperate fugitive. On the flipside, overacting and misjudging a circumstance can culminate to mental and physical trauma to occupants of a house, suppression of evidence discovered in the house and engender impertinence for enforcement of the law.
The legal provisions under exigent circumstances require officers to make two pertinent determinations. First, officers must determine the existence of an exigent circumstance. Secondly, after determining where the circumstance is in indeed exigent, officers must determine whether to make a forcible entry, carry out either a protective sweep or a complete search. The Fourth Amendment requires the existence of a detached and impartial power interposed between the populace and the police ((Bergman, Paul and Sara 21). Laws and general warrants that permit seizures, arrests and searches contravene the Fourth Amendment provisions. The Fourteenth enforces the Fourth Amendment against states by proscribing unreasonable seizures, arrests and searches with the intent of safeguarding security as well as the privacy of people against any arbitrary invasion by law enforcers. Warrantless searches, arrests and seizures are unreasonable. Primarily, reasonable warrants must receive the support of probable cause. Most importantly, they must be limited both in scope and in requirements as sworn by the officer. The law enforcer is accountable to the court that issued the warrant. In the Chandler v. Miller (1997) case, the Supreme Court required that a search should be predicted upon individualized misgiving of an offense. However, ‘special needs’ provide particularized exceptions. To satisfy the reasonableness test as espoused by the Fourth Amendment, the search warrant should be premised upon individualized suspicion.
The Fourth Amendment proscribes unreasonable seizures and searches. Courts sanction warrants. To issue warrants, a probable cause must exist for a court to issue a warrant. Introduced in 1789, the Fourth Amendment provided a solid response against Anti-Federalist objections envisioned in the new U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Congress submitted the Fourth Amendment to states. By 1791, a majority of these states had already ratified the Fourth Amendment. In the following, the amendment was adopted. In the Fourth Amendment, seizures, arrests and searches must be limited to the information in the court’s disposal. Oftentimes, law enforcers swear by the specific information provided in court. Initially, the amendment was only limited to physical intrusion on property. In the Katz v. United Case (1967) case, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that protections like warrant requirement goes beyond individual privacy and physical locations. Officers must have a warrant for seizure and search activities.
There are various exceptions such as consent searches, border searches, vehicle searches as well as exigent circumstances. This exclusionary rule facilitates the enforcement of the Fourth Amendment. The Weeks v. United States (1914), evidence acquired through violation of Fourth Amendment is inadmissible in criminal trials. Evidence obtained through illegal search is also inadmissible. This amendment has its origins in English law. Application of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. was restricted to federal government. It went through judicial dormancy. After ratification, a majority of Americans forgot the last ten constitutional amendments. Federal jurisdictions on criminal law took a new height in the 19th century after passage of the Sherman Antitrust and Interstate Commerce Acts. The criminal jurisdiction in the federal level expanded to encompass areas like narcotics. Over time, questions of the Fourth Amendment arose. The Supreme Court resolved these questions by arguing that the Fourth Amendment guarantees security, privacy and dignity of people against invasive and arbitrary acts by law enforcers bereft of search and seizure warrants. In the Mapp v. Ohio (1961) case, the Supreme Court advised that the amendment applied to all states through the Due Process Clause in the Fourth Amendment.
Initially, the Fourth Amendment gave premium to the citizenry’s property rights. The amendment restrains the government from intruding upon people’s houses and properties. In early 20th century, the Fourth Amendment proscribed physical intrusion and not police surveillance such as wiretaps. For instance, the judge in the Olmstead v. United States (1928) case prevented law officers against physical intrusion. The protections in the Fourth Amendment expanded in after the decision in the Katz v. United States (1967) by encompassing privacy rights. Furthermore, the amendment prevents people against unreasonable seizure of personal property, people without a seizure warrant. Property seizure occurs whenever meaningful interference on individuals’ property rights are threatened. The government should not detain people even momentarily bereft of lucid and reasonable suspicion with only a few exceptions. In the Delawere v. Prouse (1979) case, the Court determined that a law enforcer was ruled to have made illegal seizure by stopping an automobile and consequently detaining the driver with the intent of checking his license and the automobile’s registration. If the law enforcer possessed reasonable and articulate suspicion that the motorist had no license or the automobile was unregistered, this amounted to violation of the Fourth Amendment. The amendment must obtain written permission. A seizure or a search is unconstitutional and unreasonable when done with an invalid warrant.
The doctrine enables to law enforcers to act reasonably. Most importantly, it allows police officers to act immediately to prevent occurrence of imminent danger. Oftentimes, police officers encounter circumstances that demand immediate or even unusual action. During such circumstances, police officers are allowed to circumvent normal and usual procedures. Put differently, emergency conditions. In such circumstances, failure of police officers to act becomes unreasonable. For instance, police officers facing imminent danger must act promptly to prevent the occurrence of physical harm. Ordinary citizens also face exigent circumstances. During such situations, their action must pass the reasonableness test. A neighbor who breaks a door or window to enter a burning house with the intent of saving someone inside does so reasonably. Such breakage is within the provisions of exigent circumstances. In these situations, police officers must take prompt action to make a search, seizure or an arrest for which a probable cause is present. The U.S. Constitution permits law enforcers to announce, knock and be disallowed entry before breaking into a house.
Though warrantless seizures, arrests and searches are presumptively unreasonable according to the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has established exceptions to the generic rule. This is specifically the case for exigent circumstances. Lower courts held that the rule on exigent circumstances failed to apply whenever an exigency was established by the conduct of police officers. However, there lacked a sound consensus on how to establish when law enforcers create suchlike exigencies impermissibly. However, this grey area under the law was clarified during the Kentucky v. King (1972) where Justice Alito ruled that the rule on exigent circumstances applies provided the law enforcers do not utilize threatened or actual desecration of the Fourth Amendment (Pettry 12-14). An exigent circumstance justifies non-compliance of the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. Exigent circumstances exist when an individual’s safety or life is under threat. In addition, it occurs when police officers realize the imminent danger of a suspect to escape. In such a circumstance, police officers are permitted to make a warrantless arrest. Law enforcers may also be tempted to make a warrantless search, arrest or seizure when evidence is almost getting destroyed or removed. In some quarters, exigent circumstances are terms as special circumstances or emergency circumstances.
Officers are expected to decide on facts as opposed hunches and suspicions in determining the need for immediate and warrantless searches. An exigent circumstance is measurable through the existing facts as known by officers. In light of the requisite experience and training, officers must make common-sense interpretations in establishing exigent circumstances. Unquestionably, officers facing exigent circumstances attempt to avert potential dangers. In determining the existence of an exigent circumstance, officers must decide when to rely on information provided by untested or anonymous informants. In the event of questionable reliability of information, officers are not restricted from acting. Doubting the reliability of such information decreases whenever possible emergency increases. Whenever practicable, the police should obtain a valid warrant. Sometimes, well-delineated and conventional exceptions to warrant apply. The Court decisions in the Dumbra v. United States (1925) and the Caroll v. United States (1925) cases, the U.S. Supreme Court underscore the primacy of probable cause in exigent circumstances. Whenever a party has consent to make a search, a warrant may not be necessary.
The government possesses probable cause to arrest a suspect whenever the situation and the available information points out the suspect have committed a crime. In other others, the probable cause to make an arrest should exist before arrest is done. Evidence gathered after making the arrest cannot apply retroactively in justifying the arrest. Whenever law enforcers carry out a search, the Fourth Amendment provides that a warrant establish a probable cause in order to believe that a search will help the officers in uncovering contraband or a criminal activity. In dealing with exigent circumstances, law officers should possess legally adequate reasons to necessitate the search (Katz, Lewis and Neil 88). Routinely, courts argue that the existence of exigent circumstances only occurs when threats are imminent. During imminent threats, officers believe harm will occur in the event that they delay in taking actions. During such a situation, obtaining a warrant may not be feasible. Reasonable officers believe an exigent circumstance occur when failure to act would culminate to property losses and loss of lives. Imminence of threats reduces when potential urgency increases. In addition, courts argue that exigent circumstances occur when officers have no time to secure a search warrant. During exigent circumstances, officers are expected to observe due diligence. Courts sometimes figure out existence of exigent circumstances through judicial second-guessing.
Law enforcers carry out warrantless searches in exigent circumstances anytime obtaining search warrants and seizure warrants is impractical or dangerous. For instance, the Terry stop permits law enforcers to frisk a suspect for weapons. In Weeks v. United States (1914), the Court permitted a search on arrested people with the intent of preserving crucial evidence that could have been destroyed. Most importantly, carrying out the unwarranted search guaranteed the officers that the suspects did not possess any arms. In the Caroll v. United States (1925), it was ruled that officers could carry out a search on motor vehicles if they suspected it of carrying contraband bereft of a warrant. In addition, blood was drawn as evidence for a drunk-driving case in the Schmerber v. California (1966) without a search or seizure warrant. Principally, obtaining a warrant in such a scenario was not feasible since the alcohol content in the suspect’s blood would reduce. Moreover, law enforcers are allowed to arrest suspects on hot pursuit without a warrant. The Federal Ninth Circuit recognizes emergency and exigency as the two exceptions to warrant requirement to home searches. Emergency arises from societal caretaking whilst exigency arises from the investigation function of the law enforcers. Police working under the emergency exception can enter a house aiming at investigating emergencies that threaten life.
The Balancing Test helps courts in determining whether warrantless search or entry in a house was justified. Before the balancing test emerged, most courts employed a modified plausible cause analysis. Courts determine whether the officer relied on feasible information when deciding. This method raised many problems especially with the increasing community caretaking cases. Using this methods, courts only examined the size of the societal caretaking threat in determining whether a circumstance was exigent. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that legality of any search or entry based upon exigent circumstances does not rely on an artificial proof standard by on whether officers utilized objective reasonableness. An officer’s action is objectively reasonable if its need outweighs its intrusiveness. In the Illinois v. Lidster case, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the gravity of public concerns addressed by the seizure or search determines the officer’s reasonableness. Moreover, a court will determine the severity caused by interference on individual liberty. The scope and justification for officers to act increases when the size, likelihood and urgency to prevent an action without a warrant during exigent circumstances.
Ordinarily, there are a number of factors to consider when determining if exigent circumstances permits police entry. First, the gravity of an offense that a suspect is charged can justify warrantless search or seizure. Secondly, if law enforcers reasonably that a suspect is armed, they have a reason to make a warrantless police entry. Thirdly, in the event that a clear probable cause that demonstrates that indeed a suspect did commit a crime can also be a solid justification for warrantless entry since it would amount to an exigent circumstance. In addition, whether strong reason exists to show that a suspect is within the premises in question, then law enforcers can treat this as an exigent circumstance and carry out a warrantless search or seizure. At times, there exists a strong preponderance showing that suspect can escape whenever law enforcers do not apprehend him/her. Such a scenario would require law enforcers to act swiftly to apprehend the suspect. Moreover, during peaceful circumstances, law enforcers can make warrantless search, arrest and seizure (Daigle 8). Concisely, many factors create exigent circumstances to allow for warrantless entry. Federal courts treat these factors as ‘Dorman Factors.’ The New York state refers to ‘Dorman Factors’ as the Cruz Criteria. These factors enable suppression courts to determine whether a police entry was necessitated by exigent circumstances. These factors are not exhaustive and neither are they definitive. Courts have the authority to evaluate other factors that a situation was urgent enough to justify warrantless entry. However, courts do not necessarily need to evaluate exigent circumstances using Cruz/Dorman analysis.
Federal Courts like that in Texas consider the urgency of a situation to warrant warrantless entry. For instance, law enforcers make entry to protect evidence, put out fire and in pursuing a fleeing suspect as well as helping seriously injured people. In addition, Federal Courts find exigency by combining Cruz/Dorman factors with other possible factors. Non-Cruz/Dorman factors such as volatile and dangerous situations, initiating the arrest of suspects in public places and situations that pose danger to occupants may necessitate warrantless search, arrest or seizure. There exist many Federal cases where Cruz/Dorman factors are mentioned bereft of a Cruz/Dorman analysis. However, there flaws emerge when using Cruz/Dorman factors in most exigent circumstances. Using Cruz/Dorman factors in evaluating exigent circumstances brings forth two major issues. The first issue is inadequacy. Primarily, the inadequacies of these factors arise from many obvious and recurring circumstances that demand urgency in police action. For instance, where law enforces must be protected from harm or where possible evidence destruction is foreseeable, warrantless entry may be necessary. These factors do not address such situations since the Court in Dorman treated exigent circumstances as a distinct doctrine. However, since Cruz/Dorman, most Federal Courts have realized that a situation such as evidence destruction is an exigent circumstance subset. Principally, higher courts have failed to address the vivid evolution of the jurisdiction of these exigent circumstances. As a result, this has stymied develop of proper guidelines that help in understanding and analyzing exigent circumstances, by the law enforcers and lower courts (Bergman, Paul and Sara 24).
The Cruz/Dorman factors do not encompass the contemporary emergencies. Law enforcers find themselves in many situations that require them to act in order save lives and properties. Secondly, these factors are inconsistent with the landmark Supreme Court decision in the Payton v. New York (1980) case that restricts extent of warrantless entries. The Supreme Court ruled that making arrest inside the home amounts to invading sanctity of that home. Hence, it requires an exigent circumstance or a warrant. Making warrantless house entry without probable cause and statutory authority translates to an exigent circumstance. The Supreme Court decision underscored the relevance of warrant requirement particularly for non-consensual house entries. The Eight Circuit treated the Cruz/Dorman factors as the ‘balancing test’ that strikes a balance in maintenance of public order and protection of individual privacy right. The Cruz/Dorman factors alone do not suffice the establishment of exigency. In exigent circumstances, police must demonstrate urgency of need and show reasonable action.
For urgent need, a federal government like Texas must show that there existed no time to obtain a warrant that they can demonstrate by showing hot pursuit, imminent evidence destruction, danger of the law enforcer, likelihood of the suspect to escape et cetera. This framework establishes a distinction between exigency test and reasonableness test. Separating the tests is very consistent with the jurisprudence of the Fourth Amendment. The decision in Payton v. New York (1980) case shows the necessity of exigent circumstances for warrantless searches and seizures. However, the decision does not encompass the sufficiency of these circumstances. A situation is exigent is that which requires urgent attention. During exigent circumstances, urgent police action becomes necessary. Notably, reasonable conduct must govern police action. The crimes’ gravity may be irrelevant in relation to whether to take immediate action or not. By providing a separation between the reasonableness and exigency test, the Court may tailor an intuitive and consistent framework for police officers and lower courts.
Striking a balance between the reasonableness test and the exigency test can culminate to suppression of incriminating evidence. The primary role of the two-pronged test is ensuring that the only situation when suppression of evidence occurs when the urgency need does not permit warrantless entry. If law enforcers believe that a probable cause exists, they should provide evidence before a court as provided for by the Fourth Amendment. After this, the police should file an application for either an arrest warrant or a seizure warrant. The increased bureaucracy enhances the sanctity of a house. In addition, it prevents exception of exigent circumstance from taking over the real of civilian-police interactions on home entry. In Texas, emergencies trigger warrantless searches. The law enforcers must demonstrate a reasonable ground exists to ensure that immediate action is necessary to save life and property. Most importantly, the search should not be solely geared towards arresting the suspect and seizing evidence. Moreover, a probable cause associating the area under search and the emergency must exist. Law enforcers are community caretakers and not merely criminal investigators. Welfare and health concerns involving the public amounts constitute a subset of the roles of the police. The emergency exception occurs in the federal jurisprudence. Federal law takes cognizance of the fact that caretaking functions must be separated from acquisition and detection of evidence (Rutledge, 55).
There are two distinctive frameworks relating exigent circumstances and emergency situation. To begin with, they divide justifications that can either allow warrantless police search into a defendant’s house. The other framework treats an emergency situations as a exigent circumstance subset. In this framework, the circumstances that help in determining whether a situation is volatile and dangerous or unreasonable risk can help in establishing an exigency. The first framework is predicated upon the argument that law enforcers engage in crime fighting, community caretaking, implicating an emergency and involve exigent circumstances. Some Texas cases aligned along this framework establish the difference between exigency exceptions from emergency exception. Other Texas cases have considered emergency as an exigency circumstance subset. The first one permits a State to establish that warrantless entries can be exigency under emergency situation principle and exigent circumstance principle. Ostensibly, invalidating this provision, a higher trier-of-fact is required to find that emergency situation and exigent circumstances.
The Fourth Amendment provides that seizures and searches in a man’s home devoid of a warrant are unreasonable if none of the factors under the exigent circumstances is met. Whenever law enforcers participate in warrantless entry, conduct a seizure or search, the implication of the Fourth Amendment occurs. Upon implication, seizure or search becomes unreasonable lest they are prompted by exigent circumstances. Whenever the emergency situation occurs in the jurisdiction of the Fourth Amendment, they only allow warrantless entry in the event of exigent circumstances. Police motivation such as protection of properties or lives is irrelevant in determining the existence of exigent circumstances (Katz, Lewis and Neil, 89). Hybrid analysis occurs when Cruz/Dorman factors are combined with possible danger to police and bystanders’ lives in finding whether exigent circumstances existed to warrant police entry. In many exigent circumstances where law enforcers proceed bereft of a warrant, a probable cause linking the suspect to serious and grave crimes exists. The law enforcers must act reasonably. In fact, the Fourth Amendment supports the reasonableness test. Combining the reasonableness, subjective and objective test gives courts with a sound framework that helps in disposing of circumstance where warrantless entry by police occurs when they play the role of caretakers.
The Fourth Amendment asserts that people’s rights are secured in their papers, houses and persons against unwarranted seizures and searches. Despite the presumption, that law enforcer’s entry in unlawful, federal and state have established exceptions to the rule. Exceptions to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment exist. This is the exception under exigent circumstances. In the States v. Rengifo case, the U.S. Court of Appeal, First Circuit held that exigent circumstances arise when reasonable officers perceive delay to act to acquire a warrant as frustrating the police objective like preventing evidence destruction. While the U.S. Supreme provide a vivid guidance to police officers pertaining to circumstances where they can make warrantless entry in a house to render emergency help, it does not address the question as to whether exception of the exigent circumstances in the Fourth Amendment exist when the actions of law enforcers culminate to exigency (Hall, 101). In the police-created exigency canon, lower courts have held that police officers cannot rely on the exception if they create an exigency that they want to justify action bereft of a warrant. On the other hand, other courts failed to see a violation of the Fourth Amendment on the rationale that law enforcers established the exigency. In the First Clause, the Fourth Amendment stipulates that unreasonable seizures and searches are proscribed. In the Second Clause, the Fourth Amendment provides the prerequisites for valid warrants.
Upon making determination of the importance and nature of immediate action, they evaluate the extent that the action made an intrusion on an individual’s privacy interests. The responsibility of police officers in the society has expanded. Today, law enforcers participate in community caretaking. Navigation of the rule of warrantless seizures and searches as well as the provisions of the Fourth Amendment entails an examination of case laws as opposed to statutes. The modern principles stem from judicial evolution that has taken place over 200 years (Hemmens et al 80-81). For example, the subjective intent of a police officer in stopping traffic does not matter today. However, this subjective intent would have applied twenty-five years ago. Unquestionably, state and federal law possess a decided premium for warrants. Having a warrant enables the prosecutor or the police officer to draft an affidavit, which helps him/her in discussing the facts in the case. The warrant is also important in designing a probable cause statement with care. In addition, a warrant enables a magistrate to review the information presented in court by either the prosecutor or the police officer prior to making a decision on issuance of warrant. Whenever a case that involves a warrant is taken to court, the assumption is that seizure, arrest or search was done within the law. The burden to proof deficiency of the warrant falls on the victim. However, courts understand that oftentimes, it is not desirable or practical to ask a police officer to halt what they are doing in order to obtain a warrant. For this particular reason, state and federal constitutional law recognizes a number of exceptions to this rule that requires police officers to obtain a search, arrest or seizure warrant.
There are two major exceptions envisaged in the state and federal constitutional law – community caretaking and exigent circumstances. Comprehending the differences between these two is very important as it plays an important role in determining whether a court will admit evidence collected using a warrantless arrest, seizure or search. Notably, the role of the Fourth Amendment is to protect people against unreasonable seizures and searches. For this reason, it becomes paramount to explore the reasonableness of police officers’ actions. According to the emergency doctrine, probable cause alongside exigent circumstances justifies warrantless seizures and searches. The Code of Criminal Procedure in Article 14.05 encompasses a provision, which permits law enforcers to enter a house bereft of any warrant under exigent circumstances. Notably, exigent circumstances justify initial entry. However, since the role is to secure safety or help a person in distress, upon containment of a crisis, it becomes unreasonable to make further searching. The issuance of warrant authorizes further searching. Police officers have the responsibility of securing the scene upon containment of the situation. The doctrine of exigent circumstances does not encompass an exception of a murder scene that could sanction unlimited search for houses. However, police officers can enter a house with the intent of providing immediate aid or even search for a killer or other victims. Generally, the exception of exigent circumstances is applied in those cases where police officers make warrantless entry as opposed to a warrantless detention or stop. For this reason, this exception does not apply to traffic stops. However, its relevance arises where a driver will flee the police, abandon his/her vehicle and run into a building or a house. Police officers also apply the doctrine of exigent circumstances when protecting lives. For instance, in the Warden v. Hayden case, the U.S. Supreme Court argued that entering a home by police officers to pursue an armed burglar is okay since failure to do so would put the lives of other people at risk (Lee 31-33).
Unlike the Federal law, Texas obliges officers to possess a warrant before making an arrest. Moreover, they must show probable cause for any evidence to be admitted in court. While exceptions for warrant requirement exist under the doctrine of exigent circumstances, there is none for probable cause requirement. According to the Rules of Criminal Procedure is Texas, all criminal processes begin with an arrest. After putting a suspect under restrain, police officers make arrests. If a police officer were to restrain the liberty of suspect A, all reasonable people think that this amounts to an arrest. This may not require an arrest warrant unlike full arrests that require police officers to demonstrate probable cause. According to the test of totality of circumstances, a probable cause does not exist. In Texas, for an affidavit to suffice issuance of a warrant by a magistrate, there is need to present circumstances and facts that raises reasonable belief to show that a defendant committed an offense. Moreover, the magistrate cannot factor in oral statements that offenders make. The State produces a supporting affidavit and a warrant to be inspected in a trial court. The general presumption is that all warrants are valid. According to the judgment in the Cates v. State case, a defendant can file a motion intended to suppress evidence obtained from an exigent circumstance if it involved contravention of the Fourth Amendment.
An offender’s name may at times appear in a search warrant provided that the offender is unknown and a sufficient description is provided. Information in a radio broadcast is important in establishing probable cause. Under exigent circumstances, police officers do not need the search warrant, whether the offender is known or not. The only thing they should possess is critical and collaborated information commission of an offense. Law enforcers can make warrantless searches and arrests during traffic stops. However, relying on the doctrine of ‘plain view’ may culminate to evidence suppression in Court. According to the exclusionary rule in Texas, evidence that law enforcers obtain in violation of laws cannot be admitted in a trial. In addition, in most States, it is not mandatory to establish probable cause. However, police officers in Texas must demonstrate probable cause whenever they decide to act reasonably in exigent circumstances. This raises the bar for law enforcers who decide to make warrantless searches, arrests and seizures (Hall 101-103). Fundamentally, the provisions of the Fourth Amendment helps in safeguarding the interests of the public by ensuring that law enforcers do not violate privacy rights in the guise of exigent circumstances.
According to Article 23.01 of the Criminal Procedure in Texas, a probable cause for capias is necessary. As a writ that is issued by either a clerk or a court, a capias directs state officers to arrest people accused of committing an offense and consequently take them to court immediately. During such a situation, the state officer must show probable cause. A capias is issued after indictment in a court where the offender is charged. In the Gerstein v. Pugh, it was held that the determination of probable cause must take reasonable time. In Texas, the constitutional requirement is 48 hours. Police officers must take cognizance of the fact that mere presence in searched premises do not amount to proof of probable cause. For this reason, evidence might still be suppressed if obtained in contravention of the provisions of the Fourth Amendment.
The ‘may-break-door’ provision allows police officers to break down windows and doors whenever they are denied entry. Police officers must state their authority to make an arrest during exigent circumstances. The doctrine of ‘plain view’ allows police officers to seize properties as evidence during a warrantless search and seizure. Presumptively, arresting a suspect without an arrest warrant is invalid in Texas. However, peace officers can make arrests without any warrant for offenses committed within his/her view or his/her presence as this satisfies the requirements of the doctrine of ‘plain view.’ Such officers cannot make arrests for traffic offenses. The decision in Knot v. State allowed a citizen to handcuff someone who threw a bottle of beer at him as this amounted to breaching of peace. Therefore, peace officers can make warrantless arrests during exigent circumstances too. They can also make warrantless arrests when they find people in suspicious locations. Particularly, such warrantless arrests occur when a police officer can demonstrate that indeed, a suspect is guilty of felony. Police officers in Texas prefer lack of probable cause since they need a warrant upon confronting the suspect. Ostensibly, the doctrine of inevitable discovery does not exist in Texas.
Under the Texas constitution and the Fourth Amendment, lack of exigent circumstances suppresses evidence in a court. Where exigent circumstances are not existent, police officers must establish them deliberately. In the Barocio v. State case, it was held that marijuana odor does not offer probable cause to sanction a warrantless entry in Barocio’s house. In addition, in the Petitioner v. Clifford J. Brown (1983), police officers stopped the automobile of the respondent at night during a checkpoint of drivers’ licenses. After asking for the license, the police officer shone flashlight on the automobile. The officer noted a party balloon knotted around the tip falling from the hand of the respondent to his seat. The officer realized that the balloon had narcotics packaged in the balloon. Consequently, the respondent was arrested after a warrantless search was conducted (Batten, 56-58). A hearing was held a state-court trial where the respondent was convicted after evidence suppression was denied. Upon appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas reversed the decision by arguing the evidence suppression was necessary since evidence was obtained after the Fourth Amendment was violated. The court rejected the doctrine of ‘pain view’ that justified seizure in the Coolidge v. New Hampshire case. ‘Plain view’ is not a sufficient justification of warrantless evidence seizure.
In most criminal justice systems, conducting a warrantless search or seizure is, per se, unreasonable and a breach of individual privacy. For this reason, evidence gathered during exigent circumstances may be inadmissible in court. As earlier mentioned, police officers do not need to demonstrate probable cause for exigent circumstances in other States. However, police officers in Texas must establish probable cause. In Ohio, the Fourth Amendment protects lawful presence of police officers within an area. In the Ohio v. Cooper case, police officers investigated a robbery. They found Cooper as the major suspect. Police officers knew that Cooper has another arrest warrant issued for another different matter. They went to his home and knocked the door. After answering the knock, the police officers arrested Cooper. Using the doctrine of plain view, they seized a jacked that they thought was work by Cooper during the robbery. Cooper sought to challenge the use of the jacket as evidence because the police officers did not possess a warrant. The court held that the police officers lacked a justification for getting into the house and therefore the jacket became inadmissible as evidence. In addition, the police officers did not satisfy the reasonable test and the exigency test. In New York, evidence obtained through warrantless searches and seizures may be inadmissible in court. The decision in Payton v. New York (1980) demonstrates that warrantless searches and seizures are unacceptable lest police officers demonstrate the existent of an exigent circumstance.
The Criminal Procedure and Practice in Canada provides for warrantless seizure and search in exigent circumstances. During exigent circumstances, police officers are allowed to forego the option of obtaining a warrant. Courts in Canada realize the necessity of circumventing the legal provision that requires law enforcers to possess a search warrant or a seizure warrant during circumstances that can cause immediate and serious harm. During exigent circumstances, police officers must demonstrate the reasonableness that justifies lack of judicial authorization. According to the Criminal Code s. 487.11, public officers and peace officers charged with the responsibility of enforcing and administering provincial or federal laws can exercise the right to make warrantless searches and seizures during exigent circumstances. Moreover, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act allow peace officers to make warrantless searches whenever it is impossible to acquire a warrant. Exigent circumstances where imminent disappearance or destruction, loss and removal of evidence is a seizure or search is delayed. Put differently, police officers can make permissible encroachment upon privacy rights. In the R v. Godoy (1999), it was held that police officers could make warrantless seizures and searches when a 911 caller appears to be distress. In the R. v. Feeney (1997), the Canadian Supreme Court held that police officers require a warrant in order to enter a house with the intent of making an arrest lest the suspect is on hot pursuit.
Probable cause is predicated upon what the enforcer dispatcher had as well as what the law enforcer had. The informant remains anonymous. Establishing where the dispatcher obtained information may be impossible. For this reason, police officers must take cognizance of this reality. This necessitates the need to carry out police corroboration. The law allows a police officer to handcuff one suspect and pursue the other according to the bright-line test. The necessity of probable cause is beneficial for suspects during exigent circumstances. Ordinarily, police officers are not allowed to make arrests without a warrant according to the Texas Constitution. Exigent circumstances should pass the requirements of the Fourth Amendment (Lee, 32). Failure to meet these requirements will compel law enforcers to create exigent circumstances for warrantless seizures, arrests and searches. Upon creating an exigent circumstance, police officers must obtain a warrant to make an arrest. Police officers should not enter a house lest exigent circumstances exist. Put differently, exigent circumstances necessitate non-consensual and warrantless entry. Where the Fourth Amendment is violated, a warrantless arrest or seizure must be prompted by exigent circumstances or a probable cause.
The authority of police officers to make warrantless searches and seizures is beneficial in many dimensions. Most importantly, the doctrine of exigent circumstances permits police officers and other public officers to make warrantless seizures and searches. However, making warrantless seizures, arrests and searches can culminate to unreasonable actions particularly for police-created exigent circumstances. Preventive measures must be tailored towards limiting police officers and other law enforcers from establishing exigent circumstances as this can culminate to subversion of the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. Differentiating between police-created exigencies and actual exigent circumstances may become a tall order. In the Kentucky v. King case, the U.S. Supreme Court quashed the doctrine of police-created exigency.
People have unparalleled safety from unreasonable seizures and searches in their houses according to the jurisprudence of the Fourth Amendment. Incoherent jurisprudence prevents police officers and lower courts from comprehending their limitations and obligations. For this reason, this research paper has demonstrated that an orderly and simple framework is essential in weigh up warrantless entries occasioned by exigent circumstances. For exigent circumstances, a State must demonstrate the existence of an exigency and satisfaction of the reasonableness test. Not until these two are satisfied, evidence is inadmissible within a court. Pertaining to emergency doctrine, courts must emergencies stemming from dangerous defendants from emergency arising from circumstances not related to a defendant. Courts must treat emergencies as exigent circumstances. Notably, courts should not depend on the motivation of law enforcers in exigent circumstances since this is subjective. Courts should give premium to the reasonableness test. The actions of police officers fall within the community caretaking function. Hence, it falls beyond the Fourth Amendment’s scope.
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