“Police officers are not exempt from search warrant requirements, in order to perform community caretaking duties.”
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution, you have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
This means that in most cases, a warrant is required to search your home, with few exceptions.
The exceptions include situations where “exigent circumstances” exist.
This allows police to make a warrantless entry when they have probable cause to arrest a suspect who has fled, or to stop the imminent destruction of evidence.
Another exception is that the police may make a protective sweep incident to a lawful arrest.
Still another exception is an entry due to an objectively reasonable basis for believing someone within the house needs immediate aid.
Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court limited warrantless searches in connection with the “Community Caretaking Exception,” which is the topic of this discussion.
In this case, police officers and paramedics went to the defendant’s residence after receiving calls from neighbors, complaining that the defendant was behaving erratically.
When police and paramedics arrived, the defendant told them that he and his family had been handling up to seven pounds of mercury inside the home, which was being kept in the home in a glass jar.