SCOTUS Rules Law Enforcement Must Obtain Warrant to Enter Home for Misdemeanor Crimes

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police officers pursuing someone suspected of a misdemeanor cannot follow the suspect into a home without a warrant.

"The flight of a suspected misdemeanant does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's majority opinion of Lange v. California, 20-18. "An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency."

"On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter—to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home," she continued. "But when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so—even though the misdemeanant fled."

The case involved Arthur Lange, a California resident who was driving in Sonoma County playing music loudly and honking his horn. A police officer saw Lange and belived those were noise violations that would result in small fines.

The officers turned on his car's lights to try to get Lange to stop but Lange continued driving for a few seconds and turned into his driveway and into his garage without stopping.

The officer got out of his car and stuck his foot under the garage door to prevent it from closing.

Lange was ultimately arrested after the officer smelled alcohol on his breath and he was charged with driving under the influence as well as an excessive noise offense.

Lange argues that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of "unreasonable searches and seizures" by entering his garage without a warrant.

This story is breaking and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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The U.S. Supreme Court is shown June 21. The court ruled that police must obtain a warrant to enter the home of a person suspected of a misdemeanor. Win McNamee/Getty Images