This is a fairly complex area of the law and the case-law is always evolving. The general answer is no…unless one of the warrant exceptions applies. One of these exceptions is called the community caretaker exception. Courts examining cases which involve claims by the police that there were acting in this capacity will follow the following analysis:
First, the analysis employs an objective reasonableness
standard, which is the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment. Second,
for the exception to apply, the police must act to fulfill a genuine
community caretaker responsibility. And third, there must be evidence
of some form of exigency that compels the police to ensure the safety
and well-being of the citizenry at large. In short, it must be determined
whether the police were motivated by giving assistance or by
investigating a crime in their initial entry into the home.
There is obviously lots of gray area in that analysis and it will be a fact bay fact determination by the Court. No two cases will ever be the same and the test must be applied to the credible facts before the court on each occasion.
Another exception is called exigent circumstances. An exigent circumstance is one that creates an emergency, danger or injury to the public, threat of evidence destruction, etc. The Courts examining cases such as these will apply the following factors:
[T]he degree of urgency and the amount of time necessary to
obtain a warrant; the reasonable belief that the evidence was
about to be lost, destroyed, or removed from the scene; the
severity or seriousness of the offense involved; the possibility
that a suspect was armed or dangerous; and the strength or
weakness of the underlying probable cause determination.
Once again, this is a case by case analysis and requires the knowledge and assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the case-law and its application. Drawing parallels between your case and others that are favorable to your position is the hallmark of a sharp lawyer.
These are just two exceptions to the warrant requirement as it relates to home entry. If you feel that your home or car, or person was illegally searched, please call for a free consultation.