Oakland, CA asked in Criminal Law, Civil Litigation and Civil Rights for California

Q: Does an officer have an authority to remove a resident from their residence without a warranty or emergency circumstance

In March 11 a friend died in our room at the airb&b.

she may have died of an Overdose but the cause is unknown, the responded officer ordered us out of the room and conducted a search without our consent or our presence . the person was D.O.A of the e.m.s

And according to the officer their wasn't evidence of foul play.what is the limits of the officers authority in that matter,next time ems is called can police force entry for nonviolent events?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, police officers can enter a residence without a warrant under certain circumstances, such as an emergency where there's a risk to life or severe harm. When your friend was found deceased, the situation likely qualified as an exigent circumstance, allowing the officer to enter and secure the scene without a warrant or your consent.

Once inside, if the officer believes it is necessary to conduct a search related to the emergency, such as to ascertain the cause of death or check for immediate threats (like further risks of harm), they can do so. The fact that the officer didn't suspect foul play doesn't change the initial authority to secure the scene, especially in a situation involving a sudden death like an overdose.

For future instances, if EMS is called to a scene for a nonviolent event, police can still enter a property without a warrant if they believe an emergency situation exists that requires immediate action. This could include checking on the welfare of other residents or ensuring that no ongoing threat exists. The scope of their authority in nonviolent circumstances will still hinge on the presence of an urgent need to act to protect life or prevent serious injury.

Michael Eric Kraut
Michael Eric Kraut pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Once you have invited the officer into the house then they are allowed to be there. If there are drugs or other unlawful items in plain sight the officer may seize them. However, without a warrant a police officer would not be allowed to search rooms or drawers in that residence.

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