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Could a Pending Supreme Court Decision on the Hot Pursuit Exception to the Warrant Requirement Extend to Investigations for Misdemeanors in Illinois?

Under State and Federal law, the police typically need a warrant to enter a home or search a person. There are some exceptions, though, such as when the police are actively pursuing a suspect. There is a split among the states, though, as to whether the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applies when the person being pursued is suspected of committing a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to rule on the issue in a case arising out of California. While the ruling on the matter will not be issued until sometime next year, it could impact people’s rights in Illinois and throughout the country. If you live in Illinois and you were subjected to a warrantless search during a DUI investigation, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Illinois DUI attorney to assess your rights.

The California Case

It is reported that the defendant was followed by a patrolman for violating a state traffic law. The officer activated his lights but not his sirens, but the defendant did not stop. The defendant pulled into his garage, after which the patrolman entered the garage by placing his foot under the garage door when it was closing. Once in the garage, the patrolman spoke with the defendant and noticed that his breath smelled of alcohol. The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI.

Allegedly, at trial, the defendant argued that the patrolman’s entry into his garage violated his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches, and therefore the evidence against him must be precluded. The court rejected this argument, stating that the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applied, regardless of the fact that the defendant was being pursued for a misdemeanor. The matter was appealed to the Supreme Court, who decided to rule on the issue, with an oral argument scheduled for February 2021 or later.

The Hot Pursuit Exception to the Warrant Requirement in Illinois

Under Illinois law, pursuant to a ruling issued in 2008, the hot pursuit exception presently applies to investigations of misdemeanor crimes. In the case in which the doctrine was extended to misdemeanors, the defendant was being investigated for DUI and was subsequently arrested within his home. Similar to the California case, the Illinois DUI defendant argued that the warrantless search within his home violated his right against unreasonable search and seizure. While the ruling did not explicitly state that the hot pursuit exception applied to investigations of all misdemeanor crimes, but at the very least extended it to investigations of DUI offenses. Thus, the California ruling could potentially change the investigation of DUI crimes in Illinois.

Meet with a Trusted Illinois attorney

Criminal defendants have many privileges under the law. If you are charged with a DUI crime, and you believe your rights may have been violated, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted Illinois DUI attorney who can help you to preclude any illegally obtained evidence and fight to protect your rights. Mr. Harvatin can be reached at 217.525.0520 or via the form online to set up a meeting regarding your charges.

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