You know the scene.
Law enforcement smells illegal drugs, guns or even child pornography. Something illegal.
Maybe they are right…and maybe they are wrong.
The authorities are banging on your door to check it out.
You demand to see a warrant.
They don’t have one.
You tell them that they are not coming in without a warrant.
They beg to differ.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Police Intrusion Without A Warrant.
“Hey, Sam, this is a ‘no brainier’ for even your most casual reader! Without a warrant, they cannot come in, right?”
Well, realistically speaking, no. As a practical matter, should you refuse to open the door, the officers may well simply force their way in whether or not they have a right to do so.
“That’s where a motion to suppress evidence come in, right? If the police charge in without a warrant and without consent, then the Commonwealth cannot use whatever evidence they find! Right?”
Not necessarily. Let’s look at a very recent case out of Springfield. There, the Boston Herald tells us, a Hampden County judge has ruled that both local police and a DEA (“the Drug Enforcement Agency.”) agent acted within the law when they went into a Springfield apartment without a search warrant last year.
In that case, Springfield police had set up a drug deal between two of three suspects (hereinafter, “New Defendants”) with the assistance of the DEA.
According to testimony, the police say that one of the three New Defendants who was expecting the deal to take place answered the officers’ Expecting the deal to go down, police say one New Defendant inside the apartment instructed officers who had come to the door to “come on in.”
The officers say they did so and that the door had been left open.
Upon entering the premises, for which they had had no warrant, the officers observed the drug trafficking operation once they were inside.
On that basis, they then applied for a search warrant which was granted.
This police procedure is often called a “Buy and Bust” operation. Typically, an undercover officer goes in somewhere to purchase contraband. After doing so, the UC informs other officers what was observed and, on that basis, a search warrant is gotten.
“But the Defendants did not know that the officers were police officers at the time that they were allowed in.”
That’s what such an investigative procedure is all about. Drug dealers, alleged and otherwise, rarely sell narcotics to folks they know are police officers. The fact that the Defendants did not know it had been police officers that had been let in is simply because they did not check.
The fact that the door had been left open does not help the New Defendants’ position either.
At least, the police claim the door had been left open.
The laws regarding search and seizure can be complex. There are a number of instances wherein the police do not need a warrant to enter your home.
In this case, the Commonwealth indicated that it had consent to enter.
This is an exception to the general rule that says that police need a warrant.
If the police have consent to enter, they do not need a warrant.
When the police suddenly appear at your door, looking to come in, it can be a very scary experience. Even the most innocent among us are often startled and, yes, even frightened.
In such a situation, folks try to remember what they think they have learned from what they have seen, heard and reading materials such as the Boston Criminal lawyer Blog.
The problem is that the law is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Different fact scenarios bring different results in court.
There is one outcome, however, upon which you can usually rely:
If you try to play lawyer and fight off the officers forcefully, you are going to lose.
At home, on the street…and in court.
“So what are we supposed to do?”
Read my next blog, for one thing.