No adults were home. They woke my 16 yr old and asked him where his 18 yr old brother was. My husband and I were in the process of admitting our son to an inpatient program due to strong suicidal thoughts. They told my 16 yr old that the front door was not closed tightly and they entered the premises. Any thoughts ? Legality ?
This can be a complicated area. The police could legally enter with a valid arrest warrant or a valid search warrant. But there are also situations (hot pusuit, exigent circumstances, etc.) where an entry without a warrant could be proper. That your son was in a suicide situation requiring hospitalization suggests the possibility that some such exception to the warrant requirement might be applicable here. But, as my colleagues have pointed out, if nothing was seized and no evidence was obtained during the search, there is probably no remedy within the criminal context even if the search was technically improper. You might, perhaps, have a civil remedy.
Whether the door is open or not, police may not enter your home to look for someone without a warrant. Any evidence they obtained would be subject to supression. If you are asking about the merits of a civil rights suit, I cannot offer any advice.
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If the police had an arrest warrant for your 18 year old and reasonably believed him to be there, They were justified in entering to make the arrest. If they had a search warrant they were justified in entering. More information is needed to determine the legality of the entry. Call with more details.
In a criminal court, if they did not find any evidence, there is nothing to be done. In a civil suit for violating rights, there may be but that is not my area of expertise. I'd be concerned with why they are looking for your son because they probably will not stop looking and there are likely criminal charges coming. Speak with a lawyer who can arrange with the police to turn him in and set bail so he does not have to spend time in jail and to begin the defense.
Criminal Defense Attorney
A warrant or articulatble concerns for someone's safety would have been needed. However, despite entering which may have been problematic, much would depend on what your are asking - is there evidence that needs to be suppressed or is this a civil rights question?
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Criminal Defense Attorney
They needed a warrant to legally search your premises or arrest your son unless it was an emergency situation. However, you should retain an attorney for your son as it appears they wanted to arrest him.
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Much more information is needed to determine whether the entry was permitted