The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday that police should get less leeway when investigating misdemeanor crimes versus felonies that are in progress. This raises the bar for the exception to warrant requirements under the Fourth Amendment.
The case stems about law enforcement violating the rights of a California man, Arthur Lange by pursuing him from a highway in California to his garage for allegedly playing loud music.
The patrol officer felt Lange was violating a noise ordinance, proceeded to follow him to his home, and when Lange entered his driveway, the officer put on his flashing lights.
The officer, in proceeded to get out of his car and place his foot under the closing garage door sensor to force the door open again. He had no warrant to enter the home. The officer said he smelled liquor on Lange’s breath and arrested him for driving under the influence and a noise violation.
Lange appealed his case to the Supreme Court, declaring the officer had no right to enter his home without a warrant and the DUI evidence was illegally obtained.
Justice Elena Kagan declared in writing for the courts majority that police had no right to enter the man’s home without a warrant for such a trivial offense. The pursuit of a misdemeanant does not trigger a categorical rule allowing a warrantless home entry,” she wrote.
The nation’s highest court was mostly unanimous Wednesday in siding with Lange.