Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner (On Merits).
Argument: A rule categorically permitting warrantless entry into a private residence in pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanant would be dangerously overbroad and conflict with long-standing Fourth Amendment jurisprudence requiring case-by-case analysis of whether exigent circumstances justify the entry. An extensive survey of cases involving such entries reveals that many spiral out of control, often resulting in property damage and personal injury to officers, suspects, and innocent third parties. Further, law enforcement interests typically justifying warrantless entries—preventing evidence destruction or protecting the safety of officers and the public—are not implicated in many misdemeanant pursuits. A case-by-case approach would permit warrantless entry when a particular misdemeanant poses a serious threat to people or evidence while encouraging officers to briefly pause and seek a warrant in the many cases where neither the suspected crime nor the circumstances of the pursuit justify putting lives or property at risk.
Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.
Argument: NACDL and CACJ join to support a petition to the United States Supreme Court to review a California State Appellate Court decision expanding the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement to the home in all misdemeanor cases. The case involved a domestic dispute in which the wife viewed the husband as potentially suicidal and called officers. While the petitioner/husband was taken for examination (and later released), the officers entered the home and seized petitioner’s guns. Authorities refused to return the guns until petitioner sued for numerous constitutional violations. The trial court dismissed the suit on caretaking grounds, as did the court of appeals. The amicus brief, following an extensive review of warrantless entries in misdemeanor cases (especially “failure to obey” cases) details numerous instances in which grievous and unnecessary harm resulted from the warrantless entry.