Sanders v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 1, 2021
  • Case #: 20-6400
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 956 F.3d 534 (2020)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the community caretaker exception to the Fourth Amendment allowed law enforcement to make warrantless entry into a home where: (1) they suspected a male had fought with and caused minor scratches to the face of his girlfriend, who assured officers that she and her children were fine; and (2) they heard a child crying inside after expressly assenting to the girlfriend reentering the home to ask the male to come out.

On February 16, 2018, Dubuque Police Officers were dispatched to conduct a "well-check" at a residence where there was an alleged domestic dispute. Upon arriving at the residence, officers observed a female with red marks on her face and neck and heard a child crying after the female reentered the residence to ask the male, Petitioner, to come out. Less than four seconds after the female reentered, and within 50 seconds of their initial knock on the door, the officers entered the home, found a gun, and arrested Petitioner. At trial, Petitioner filed a Motion to Suppress and argued that no exception to the warrant requirement excused the warrantless entry into his home. The motion was denied and the court found that the community caretakers exception justified law enforcement's initial warrantless entry—Petitioner then entered a conditional guilty plea. Petitioner asserts that the mere possibility that a domestic dispute might have occurred before police arrived, that might have posed some unspecified danger to some unidentified person in the house, was not sufficiently compelling to outweigh Petitioner’s fundamental constitutional interest in being free from governmental intrusion in his home.

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