January 18, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering how much leeway police have in entering a home without a warrant. The case, Kentucky v. King, centers on “exigent circumstances.” These are situations that allow police to enter and search a home without obtaining a warrant – sort of the exceptions to the warrant requirement (i.e. if authorities suspect criminal activity but believe that time is a factor due to a life being endangered, a possible escape or the destruction of evidence).
The case reached the nation’s highest court after the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned Hollis King’s conviction. King was busted and sentenced to 11 years in prison when officers, who were chasing an unrelated suspect, stumbled upon King and some friends smoking pot. Police say they smelled marijuana and feared that evidence was being destroyed. Thus, they entered King’s home and obtained evidence without a warrant.