The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions both protect its citizens from the police making warrantless entries into private residences. This right is specified in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This right, however, is not absolute. Therefore, if the police do, in fact, make a warrantless entry into a person's home and conduct a search of the residence resulting in the seizure of incriminating evidence, the court employs a number of factors to determine whether the challenged search is constitutional.
In order for a warrantless search to be justified, the police officer who made the warrantless entry must have both probable cause that a crime has been committed and an exigent circumstance. The factors the court will consider are: 1. gravity of the offense; 2. whether the suspect is reasonably believed to be armed; 3. whether there is above and beyond a clear showing of probable cause; 4. whether there is strong reason to believe that the suspect is within the premises being entered; 5. whether there is likelihood that the suspect will escape if not swiftly apprehended; 6. whether the entry was made peaceably; and 7. the time of the entry, i.e. whether was made at night.
The court balances these factors against one another in determining whether the warrantless entry was warranted or not. In these cases, the police bear a heavy burden to justify the entry.
If you or a loved one is being charged with an offense stemming from evidence obtained from a search of a residence, contact the experienced and aggressive attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm for a free consultation.