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Warrantless Entry and Use of Force

Warrantless Entry and Use of Force

Exceptions to Warrantless Entry

According to the Fourth Amendment, irrational search by the police is illegal. However, there are exceptions provided, which allow law enforcement officers to have warrantless entry into private property. Besides exigent circumstances, the police can search someone’s home or property based on the Plain View Exception and Consent (Bergman & Berman-Barrett, 2015, p.89).

The police do not require a warrant to get evidence in plain view in the event law enforcement officers are legally in the location from which evidence is perceivable. For instance, a police officer is restricted to illegitimately enter the backyard of a suspect and then rely on Plain View Exception to capture an alligator kept illegally in the pool within the backyard. However, in the event an officer has a warrant and is on the property searching for marijuana plants, he or she is allowed to seize the alligator that is in plain view.

Another exception to warrantless entry is after consent is given. In such a case, the person reasonably deemed by police officers that he or she has the power to give consent; there is no need for a warrant to conduct a search (Bergman & Berman-Barrett, 2015, p.90). For example, in the event a suspect’s wife gives law enforcement officers a key to the house, and they ascertain reasonably that she lives in the apartment, the search will not be in violation of the rights provided in the Fourth Amendment. The search will be conducted irrespective of whether or not she lived in the house or had no authority to consent (Illinois vs. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177. 1990). However, in case an officer knocks on a suspect’s door and Tom, a six-year-old child answers, the police officer asks Tom if it is okay to come in and talk to his dad and then enters, find the father oiling an illegal gun, arrested for possession of the gun; the evidence will be disregarded because Tom was a child.

Standards Established by the Court in the Use of Force for Arrest

The court established that an objective rationality standard should be used to a person’s assertion that a police officer used excessive force in the process of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other capture of the individual. In establishing rationality, there is a need for a careful balancing of the circumstance and quality of the intrusion on the suspect against the move to countervail and under the guise of governmental interests being threatened. The Fourth Amendment jurisdiction recognizes that the right of arresting a suspect to stop him for investigation has some level of allowance to use physical force or verbal threat (Bergman & Berman-Barrett, 2015, p.91). However, the amendment established that since the test of rationality does not have a precise definition or unconscious submission, its proper application should be carefully analyzed concerning the circumstances and facts of specific cases.

Therefore, the court established a number of factors for balancing a person’s rights as well as the rights of a law enforcement officer. The first aspect to consider is the severity of the crime or problem at hand. The officer should use force in self-defense. In this case, the suspect must be posing an immediate threat to the well-being of the officer or any other individual around (Bergman & Berman-Barrett, 2015, p.92). Additionally, the court outlined that force is applicable in the event the suspect is resisting arrest or trying to avoid arrest through flight. According to the court, the rationality of a specific use of force should be perceived from the point of view of a rational officer on the scene as opposed to the 20/20 vision of hindsight.


Bergman, P., & Berman-Barrett, S. J. (2015). The criminal law handbook: Know your rights, survive the system. California: Nolo.