In a private home, searches without a warrant are presumed to be unreasonable under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Absent probable cause AND exigent circumstances, the entry and search of a home is prohibited. The court considers a number of factors to determine whether exigent circumstances are present: gravity of offense believed to be committed; whether the suspect is armed; whether the police have above and beyond a clear showing of probable cause; police have a strong belief the suspect will be found in the home sought to be entered; whether there is a likelihood the suspect will escape if not swiftly apprehended; whether the entry was peaceable; and the time of the entry. It is the government’s burden to prove, based on these factors, the warrantless entry was justified.
The court weighs these factors to determine whether the warrantless entry made by the police officer was justified. If the gravity of the offense is a minor one, the court should make a determination against the warrantless entry of the home.