The government indicted Pembaur, a physician, for fraudulently accepting payments from state welfare agencies. During the investigation, grand jury subpoenas were issued for two of Pembaur’s employees. When the employees failed to appear before the grand jury, arrest warrants were issued for their arrests. When two deputies attempted to serve the warrants at Pembaur’s clinic, he barred the door and refused to allow the deputies enter the private part of the clinic. The deputies then called the County Prosecutor, who instructed them to “go in and get” the employees. After the deputies were unable to force the door open, they chopped it down with an axe and entered the private part of the clinic; however, the deputies were unable to locate the two employees.
Pembaur filed a lawsuit against the county and others under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated. Pembaur argued that, absent exigent circumstances, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from searching an individual’s home or business without a search warrant, even to execute an arrest warrant for a third person.
Whether law enforcement officers must obtain a search warrant to execute an arrest warrant in areas in which a third party has reasonable expectation of privacy?
Yes. Generally, officers must obtain a search warrant to execute an arrest warrant in areas where a third party has reasonable expectation of privacy.
Absent some exigency or consent, law enforcement officers must have a search warrant to enter a third party’s zone of reasonable expectation of privacy to serve an arrest warrant.
475 U.S. 469, 106 S. Ct. 1292 (1986)