Illegal Entry Into Home in the Middle of the Night by Officers in Wine Country Leads to Court Tossing All Evidence Obtained by Officers

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In the dead of a warm summer night, in the heart of wine country, our firm’s client’s peaceful slumber was disturbed by the loud pounding of police officers knocking at the door of his residence.

Prior to arrival, police officers were investigating a hit and run collision. The police investigation eventually led to our client’s residence, where our client was asleep inside on the couch. Initially, our client’s spouse responded to the police officers knocking at the door. Our client’s spouse exited their residence and spoke with officers outside. While outside, the officers told our client’s spouse, “we need to talk to your husband.” Our client’s spouse returned to the residence, and entered back into his home. One of the officers followed the spouse into the residence, while the other officer stood at the doorway. At that point our client was awoken, detained and directed to go back outside where he was subjected to a DUI investigation. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of DUI. Our client’s blood was later withdrawn, and he was subsequently charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Managing Partner Chris D’Anjou filed a suppression motion to exclude any and all evidence obtained by the officer’s unlawful entry into the residence. Because the officers did not have a warrant to enter, it was their burden to prove that the entry into home was lawful. During cross-examination, Mr. D’Anjou got the entering officer to admit that he did not obtain the consent of our client or his spouse to enter the residence. While the prosecution tried to argue that following the spouse was an invitation to enter; and nobody told the officers to leave, the court was not persuaded. As a consequence, the court ruled in favor of our client, and the government cannot use all the evidence that they obtained after our client was detained.

The home is a sacred place under the United States Constitution, and officers cannot simply enter a home absent a warrant or consent. Here, the officer’s overzealous actions resulted in a harsh consequence for the government. In addition, the outcome of the DMV hearing was equally successful resulting in a set aside.


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Updated: 01/24/2024