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Lange v. California
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.