A recent decision from the Illinois Court of Appeals has strengthened protections for when police officers may enter a home without a warrant. As most Americans know, the Fourth Amendment requires that police officers get a warrant to enter someone’s home without permission, or at least have a very good reason to avoid this rule, such as a reasonable suspicion that someone’s life is in danger if they don’t enter.
Of course, whether the police are right to enter a residence without a warrant is rarely a clear cut issue. Sometimes police believe they have every right to enter a home without getting a warrant first, and if that action results in an arrest, the suspect may need to go to court to have any evidence police find suppressed, and making sure that decision is upheld can even require going before the appellate court.
People v. Swanson
In People v. Swanson, decided earlier this month, the defendant was coming home from a bar when he lost control of his vehicle on an icy road and crashed into a ditch approximately two miles from his home in Hinckley, Illinois.
The airbags deployed and the man only cut his finger, but the vehicle would not start, so he locked his car and went to a nearby home for assistance. At the first home, the residents would not let the man home and even pulled a gun on him. No one was home at the second residence, so he decided to return to his own home.
In the meantime, police officers found the abandoned vehicle and contacted the defendant’s wife to tell him that her husband and been involved in a car accident and could not be located.
The man soon returned home, however, and his wife contacted dispatchers to let them know that he was safe. This was not enough for police officers though, who insisted on coming to the home to see for themselves.
Stories conflict about what happened next, though it did result in the man being arrested and charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and several other misdemeanors. The woman repeatedly insisted before the trial court that she did not give the police consent to enter her home, though police claim she did. The trial court sided with the woman, and granted the man’s motions to suppress evidence and rescind a statutory summary suspension of his license.
The state appealed this ruling, but finding the woman to be credible and no applicable exception that would have allowed the police to enter without a warrant, the appellate court upheld the ruling of the trial court.
Contact a Chicago Defense Appeals Lawyer
Sometimes the ruling of a trial court is not enough to clear your name, and you must file an appeal to have evidence suppressed or get a conviction vacated. Criminal appeals are complex matters best handled by experienced Illinois appellate attorneys. If you’re considering an appeal in a criminal case, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation about your case.