Pulaski County Drug Arrest
I’ve written at length about the need for police officers to obtain a warrant before entering a home or business. Your 4th Amendment right against illegal search and seizure protects you from law enforcement entering your premises, without your permission. In many cases, defendants decide to voluntarily allow them to enter. This effectively surrenders your right. However, there is another way for police to enter your property without a warrant. This may have been used during a recent Pulaski County drug arrest.
Police responded to a call involving an argument and potential assault. When they arrived, two occupants locked themselves into a bathroom. You might ask, “Why didn’t they simply deny permission for the police to enter the home?” The answer is they may not have had a choice.
Is It Possible for Police to Enter Your Home without a Warrant?
There’s a legal doctrine called, “exigent circumstances.” This is an exception to the need for police to obtain a search warrant. To be used, the police need to have probable cause that a crime is being committed as well as circumstances existing that so severe as to negate the warrant requirement. They must also be able to establish a reasonable basis for using this exception.
What are examples of Exigent Circumstances?
This often applies in drug cases. If the police believe:
- They have to enter to prevent physical harm to themselves are others
- Evidence is being or will be destroyed while waiting for the warrant
- The suspect(s) may attempt to escape
- There are other, limited circumstances which may qualify as exigent circumstances
In the case of the Pulaski County Drug Arrest, once inside the residence, police discovered drugs, scales and baggies, over $2,000 in cash and multiple handguns. The two individuals were arrested for trafficking meth and one was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As of the writing of this article, both defendants are being held at the Pulaski County Detention Center.
As a Kentucky criminal defense attorney, I would review the police reports and other evidence to determine if exigent circumstances realistically existed. Often, law enforcement is tempted to be generous with the interpretation of the facts on the ground; other times, it is patently clear that exigent circumstances exist to permit immediate entry.
It may also be possible to prove that others were recently present in the home and that the couple didn’t realize what was going on. After all, the domestic disturbance may have involved others who had just fled the premises before the police arrived.
There is a burden of proof that law enforcement must meet. My role is to ensure they meet that burden and that they did their job according to the law. More importantly, my job is to defend someone arrested due to an assumption of a crime. It’s possible the charges won’t stand up under extreme scrutiny. If I were representing them, that’s exactly what I’d provide on behalf of the defendants.