For over half a century, the doctrine of hot pursuit has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an exception to the requirement that a police officer, even with probable cause, may not enter a person’s home to arrest a suspect without a warrant. Courts have been divided, however, on whether pursuit for a misdemeanor justifies a warrantless entry. That issue will now be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980), the court held that, with certain exceptions, a suspect cannot be arrested in his home unless the police have an arrest warrant, even if they have probable cause to make an arrest. Under one exception, where, because of exigent circumstances, the police do not have sufficient time to obtain an arrest warrant, a warrantless entry is permissible.

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