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Court Discusses Warrantless Search of Home


The sanctity of the American home is considered one of the most vital of all rights in this free society. It is because of this attitude that search and seizure laws are constantly being revisited. The American jurisprudence system obtained the roots of its procedural law from the old English version of common law. A New York Family Lawyer said that one of the main issues of strife between the colonists and the English authorities was the invasion of colonist’s homes without a warrant. On the other side of the coin was that the authority to enter a home without a warrant was established as a means to ensure the health and peace of the citizenry at any time. It has been reviewed numerous times. Some people still contend that the ability to force entry into a person’s home for the purpose of arresting them without a warrant is legal under the common law approach from English law.

Most Americans believe that their homes are secure from invasion by the government as long as the government agent does not have probable cause to obtain a warrant. Prior to 1961, New York like most other states, conducted warrantless searches of a person’s home whenever they could show that they had probable cause to believe that the person lived at the residence. In 1961, Dolree Mapp was in her home when Ohio police officers arrived and demanded entry to search for her boyfriend. A New York Custody Lawyer said that Ms. Mapp demanded that they show her a warrant before she would let them in. The officers left, but returned shortly with a document that they claimed was a search warrant. Ms. Mapp snatched the paper and put it down the front of her dress. A police officer retrieved it and she was arrested for having indecent materials in a box in her cellar. She claimed that the indecent material was nude drawings from her art class. Ms. Mapp was convicted and appealed her conviction. Her Supreme Court case became a landmark case that created the requirement of search warrants at the state as well as the federal level. Prior to 1961, state officials could conduct a warrantless search to arrest a person whom they believed was guilty of a felony. Following Mapp v Ohio, warrants became required by state officials. This case changed many procedures.

It is surprising then that this argument is still being challenged. However, the sanctity of a person’s home should not be violated lightly. American’s hold the sanctity of home in high regard, that leaves the question of the constitutionality of warrantless arrests in the home unanswered. It is held as common knowledge that an officer may arrest a felon in a public place without the benefit of a warrant. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the warrantless arrest of a felon in the sanctity of their own homes is a different situation. As years progress, the requirements tighten to ensure that officers respect at all cost the sanctity of a person’s home. The arrest or seizure of a person in a public place, is less intrusive and should not be held to the same standard as an invasion of a citizen’s home. That being said, the history has been clear that no person need allow an official of the state to enter their homes without a warrant. There are exigent circumstances such as the endangerment of life that allow such intrusions. Exigent circumstances are those circumstances that are so time sensitive that a person could be seriously injured or killed if the time is taken to secure a warrant. A Queens Family Lawyer said that under exigent circumstances, an officer may enter a person’s home in order to prevent a greater wrong from being done.

The Supreme Court continues to uphold the requirement of a search warrant barring exigent circumstances for any entry into a person’s domicile. Stephen Bilkis & Associates is a Family Lawyer with convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area is available to help you. Divorce Court issues are confusing. Our Divorce lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through any situation.

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