Supreme Court Allows Warrantless Police Entry in Drug Case


The U.S. Supreme Court today overruled a Kentucky Supreme Court decision and said Lexington, Ky., police officers legally entered a suspected drug dealer’s apartment without a warrant. Officers had smelled marijuana outside an apartment door, knocked loudly, and announced their presence, the court said. As soon as the officers began knocking, they heard noises they believed were consistent with the destruction of evidence, so they kicked in the door and saw drugs in plain view. Writing for an 8-1 majority, Justice Samuel Alito said, “Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame for the warrantless exigent-circumstances search that may ensue.”

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court opinion “arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement in drug cases. In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, nevermind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant.”

Comments are closed.