Hot Pursuit Warrant Exception

The facts of this moot are taken from a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on February 24, 2021 involving whether police who are in pursuit of someone they believe has committed a misdemeanor and follow that person into his home without first obtaining a warrant.

FACTS: The question comes to the court in the case of Arthur Lange, a northern California man whom a California highway patrol officer followed to his home because he believed that Lange had violated state traffic laws by listening to loud music and honking his horn a few times. After Lange pulled into his garage, the officer – who had turned on his overhead lights but did not use his siren as Lange approached his house – entered the garage by putting his foot under the garage door to block it from closing. When he spoke to Lange, the officer said that he could smell alcohol on his breath, and Lange was charged with driving under the influence.

NOTE: participants will notice that the State of California is listed as a named party yet the brief below is not from the State. This is because the State decided Mr. Lange’s argument was correct, disagreeing with local prosecutors who argued the police had acted properly. In instances like this, when the Court still wants to hear the case, they will appoint someone to write a brief on behalf of the state’s position. Below you will find one of these briefs that I am called “Brief in Support of No Warrant.”

Question Presented: Whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant.

  • California Court of Appeals decision – note that the case began in the state court because this is a state criminal case, but the issue concerning the warrant is a federal law issue (U.S. Constitution) which can be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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