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Warrantless search in drug case upheld by Supreme Court

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling could lead to more warrantless searches in drug cases in New Jersey and around the country. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police had acted "reasonably" when breaking down the door of a suspected drug dealer's home without a warrant to see evidence of drug crimes in plain sight.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement, but the "exigent circumstances rule" says that sometimes warrantless searches are "reasonable" if police believe the circumstances require an immediate search.

According to United Press International, the suspect in this case pleaded guilty to drug crimes on the condition that he could appeal for exclusion of the evidence seized during the warrantless search. The evidence was seen in plain site after police kicked down a door to an apartment where they suspected illegal drug activity was happening.

The police had arrived at the apartment after they bought crack cocaine undercover from an individual and then followed him to the apartment. They said they smelled marijuana and when they knocked on the door and announced their presence, they heard what sounded like "destruction of evidence," so they broke down the door.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the police should have obtained a warrant before knocking on the door or breaking it down. The Supreme Court disagreed almost unanimously, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. Justice Ginsburg said that the ruling was in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that she worried this would lead to more such violations by law enforcement in similar drug cases.


Warrantless searches expanded in drug case (

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