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Warden v. Hayden


A man robbed the office of a cab company and fled. Two cab drivers, attracted by the shouts of “holdup,” followed the man to a residence. One driver notified the company dispatcher by radio, giving a description of the man and the address he entered. The dispatcher relayed this information to the police who arrived at the scene within five minutes. The officers entered the house without a warrant, and spread out through the first and second floors and the cellar in search of the robber. The defendant was found in an upstairs bedroom feigning sleep, and placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, an officer was attracted to an adjoining bathroom by the noise of running water, and discovered a shotgun and a pistol in a flush tank. Another officer who “was searching the cellar for a man or the money” (and the Court said it should be noted that he was also looking for weapons), found a jacket and trousers in a washing machine of the type the fleeing man was said to have worn. A clip of ammunition for the pistol and a cap were found under the mattress of the defendant’s bed. Ammunition for the shotgun was found in a bureau drawer in the defendant’s room. At the time these searches were made, the officers did not know that the defendant had been arrested. All these items of evidence were introduced against the defendant at his tria


Whether the entry into the house, without a warrant, and the search for the robber and for weapons, was reasonable?


Yes. The hot pursuit doctrine allows officers to make warrantless entries into zones of privacy for suspected persons and weapons.


The officers acted reasonably when they entered the house and began to search for a man and for weapons that might be used against them. Neither the entry without a warrant to search for the robber, nor the search for him or his weapons was invalid as there were exigent circumstances. The officers acted reasonably when they entered the house and began to “search for the man… and for weapons which he had used in the robbery and might use against them (emphasis added).” “Speed here was essential, and only a thorough search of the house for persons and weapons could have insured that Hayden was the only man present and that the police had control of all weapons which could be used against them or to effect an escape.” “The permissible scope of search must, therefore, at the least, be as broad as may reasonably be necessary to prevent the dangers that the suspect at large in the house may resist or escape.”


387 U.S. 294, 87 S. Ct. 1642 (1967)

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