The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Lange v. California to examine the circumstances around entering a home without a warrant.
Arthur Lange was driving home on a highway in California when an officer pursued him with the intent to conduct a traffic stop. The officer followed Lange and activated his overhead lights once Lange pulled into his driveway. Lange pulled into his garage and closed the garage door. The officer then stopped the door from closing and questioned Lange. The officer charged Lange with driving under the influence after smelling alcohol on Lange’s breath.
At trial, Lange claimed the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights when the officer entered his home without a warrant.
The court examined whether the pursuit of a person–whom a police officer had probable cause to believe committed a misdemeanor–categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant.
The trial court held in favor of the officer, holding that the officer had probable cause. A civil court later ruled the arrest was unlawful, and an appellate court affirmed the trial court.