Warrant Exception: Exigent Circumstances
The Court has grouped a handful of recurring situations under the umbrella term “exigent circumstances.” This exception allows police to conduct searches without warrants as long as officers have probable cause to believe that one of the approved kinds of unusual situations—that is, exigent circumstances—exists. For all the categories of exigent circumstances, the Court has decided that seeking a warrant would be impossible, or at least impractical. The key categories are: (1) hot pursuit of a fleeing criminal suspect, (2) protection of public safety from immediate threats, and (3) preservation of evidence (that officers have probable cause to believe is subject to seizure and will be found on the premises) from destruction.
We begin with hot pursuit.