By Karisa Cortez
OAKLAND, CA- California Attorney General Robert Bonta released a statement this week supporting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lange v. California, which protected the constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure.
The case began in 2016 when Arthur Lange was driving home to Sonoma, CA, with his windows down and music playing loudly. He also honked his car around for our five times without any other vehicles being around.
The honking horn resulted in Lange catching the attention of a California highway patrol officer who then followed him home.
The officer followed Lange into his garage, believing he was intoxicated, by stopping the door with his foot and forcing it open. Blood alcohol tests later showed that Lange was driving with
three times the legal alcohol driving limit.
Lange was charged with driving under the influence and playing music too loudly; resulting in two misdemeanors and an infraction.
In court, he argued that the officer had violated his Fourth Amendment right, prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure, by entering his home without a warrant.
California did not defend the decision held by the lower court and prompted Lange and his attorney to move the matter to the Supreme Court.
On June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court determined that under the Fourth Amendment pursuing a suspect for a misdemeanor doesn’t always justify entering a home without a warrant.
Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the majority opinion, states “A suspect may flee, for example, because he is intent on discarding evidence. Or his flight may show a willingness to flee yet again, while the police await a warrant. But no evidence suggests that every case of misdemeanor flight poses such dangers.”
Prior to the ruling officers were able to enter a home without a warrant under certain circumstances. Under United States v. Santana the Supreme Court stated that “hot pursuit” of someone suspected of a felony granted entry into the home without a warrant.
AG Bonta applauded the Court’s decision in denying officers entry into a home under “hot pursuit” circumstances if the alleged crime is a misdemeanor.
In a statement issued to constituents Bonta stated “No matter where you live, that underlying principle has always been enshrined in our Constitution: our homes are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.
”This is a safeguard that we must jealously defend. While there are important exceptions meant to serve public safety, our laws and policies must always strike a careful balance. I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for doing exactly that in this decision.”
Karisa Cortez is an incoming fourth year Politics major with minors in history and media studies at the University of San Francisco. She is from San Jose, CA and is currently living in San Francisco.
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