Olfactory Exigent Circumstances

The Supreme Court ruled today 8-1 that Kentucky police did not err in kicking in the door of an apartment that reeked of pot and was suspected of harboring a drug suspect. The police asserted that they believed from sounds emanating from the apartment that evidence was being destroyed.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito penned that “Exigent circumstances, including the need to prevent the destruction of evidence, permit police to conduct an otherwise permissible search without first obtaining a warrant.”

While at first blush, it appears that this case further erodes Fourth Amendment rights, it seems after a closer reading to be an extension of an already long-standing exception.  In fact, as the title alludes to, this may well become known as the ‘olfactory exigent circumstances’ exception!


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