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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > May 2015 > Search and Seizure (Warrantless Home Entries, Exigent Circumstances, Hot Pursuit): State v. Lowe

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Search and Seizure (Warrantless Home Entries, Exigent Circumstances, Hot Pursuit): State v. Lowe

Question: Can an officer enter an enclosed back porch to arrest a suspect without a warrant?

Quick Answer: No. Although the officer exercised great restraint when dealing with the suspect, and there was ample probable cause to arrest him for a serious felony charge, the Fourth Amendment prohibits warrantless arrests in the home absent exigency or consent.

State v. Lowe, Third Appellate District, Marion County, March 30, 2015

Facts: A Marion County deputy responded to an assault complaint. The victim told the deputy that Lowe was responsible for the significant injuries to her face and head. The deputy also learned that Lowe broke her phone when she tried to call the police and that he had threatened her. The deputy attempted to locate Lowe at his home. When he arrived at the home that Lowe shared with his parents, the deputy went to the enclosed back porch. He initiated contact with Lowe and told him he was under arrest. Lowe then retreated into the house. After trying to convince the suspect’s father to encourage Lowe to cooperate, the deputy entered the porch without consent. Lowe approached the deputy with his fists clenched, was shot with a Taser, and was subsequently arrested. 

Importance: Without consent, a warrantless home arrest is only allowed when exigent circumstances exist. Since the suspect no longer posed a threat to the victim, there was no exigency. The deputy should have gotten a warrant and monitored the residence to ensure that the suspect did not leave the house. Also there was no “hot pursuit” exigency. While law enforcement officers may enter a home without a warrant when they are in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, in this case the suspect was already in the home when the deputy arrived two hours after the contact with the victim. 
Keep in Mind: An enclosed, attached porch is considered part of the home and is protected by the Fourth Amendment.