Emergency Aid Doctrine

Criminal ProcedureUnder the “emergency aid” exception to the warrant requirement, otherwise known as the “Emergency Doctrine”, police officers may enter a home without a warrant to render emergency assistance to an injured occupant or to protect an occupant from imminent injury.  This exception has three requirements:

(1) The officers must have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an emergency at hand and an immediate need for their assistance for the protection of life or property;

(2) The search must not be primarily motivated by an intent to arrest and/or to seize evidence; and

(3) There must be some reasonable basis, approximating probable cause, to associate the emergency with the area or place to be searched.

The courts have defined exigent circumstances to include those circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts.

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