The Supreme Court has ruled that police officers have the right to enter a private residence without a warrant if they believe a suspect may be destroying crucial evidence.
On May 16, the nation’s highest court decided 8-1 in favor of the State of Kentucky over Hollis King, who filed a lawsuit after police entered his home without a warrant. King was arrested for possession of cocaine and later convicted of drug trafficking.
In defense of their actions, police claimed that the smell of marijuana emanated from King’s residence, and they heard noises that sounded like evidence was being destroyed. The Supreme Court ruled that the officers’ conduct “was entirely lawful.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided the only dissenting vote, saying that the decision grants law enforcement officials an excuse to ignore the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens against unwarranted search and seizure of their property.
“How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and forcibly enter?” Ginsburg asked.
John Wesley Hall, a criminal defense lawyer in Little Rock, Ark., told the Los Angeles Times that he was shocked by the ruling. He was surprised that eight of the nine justices condoned the idea that police can enter a private residence if “they hear suspicious noises inside,” the news provider reported.