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Issue with the Police


Rebel
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While I was in Vegas last week the police had came to my home at 1:30 in the morning looking for me. I live out in the county on a 100 acre farm that is 1/4 mile long off the road to my home. Me and my parents share the same driveway and that splits off to both of our homes. I always leave the garage up a little bit for my 2 big dogs to stay cool in the summer.

 

My father said a car drove up the drive to my house and he seen someone with a flashlight craw under my garage door into my garage. He said that both dogs where going off. After my father getting dressed he stop the car on the way out. It was the police and they where looking for a person with the same name as me that drives a Toyota truck that was in a hit a run at a local drinking place. He told them that I have no Toyota and I was in Las Vegas. Dad said that he heard the dispatcher over the radio send them to the address of the other person that has the same name as me. I later found out that it was not my name but another name that was evolved in the hit and run.

 

My first thought of hearing this was. In their computer system it should have all my cars listed and they should have known I own no Toyota truck. Why send 2 officers out late at night out in the county to search for that Toyota on their own? Truthfully I am not sure as to how I would have handled someone with a flashlight in my garage had I been there that early in the morning. No blue lights, just 2 persons holding a flashlight searching inside of my garage.

 

What bothers me is do they have the right to go into my garage without my permission and what they could have done to my dogs to get access into the garage at 1:30 in the morning. The more and more I think about this the madder I get. Do I have a right to have a beef with the local sheriff's office over this? I have contacted the Sheriff's office this morning to have someone explain to me what happened.

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They do not have the authority to enter your property unless they have a search warrant or have sufficient reason to believe a crime is in progress. If they had obtained evidence in this way, it could have been deemed inadmissable in court.

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I would think the general rule of thumb is they can't enter without probable cause/warrant. They were probably just taking a peak to see if you had the Toyota, then ruled you out, the whole curiousity kill the cat concept. I understand your beef but I would almost view it as no harm, no foul. Although, if you want an explanation your probably entitled to one.

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I would be upset & I think you have every right to be upset. Police do not have that type of authority, although not having authority doesn't deter many police officers.

 

The problem is that nothing will come of it. You can complain, demand an explanation, etc. but you're really just wasting your breath, time & energy. I would call the police department & tell them your story & move on. No sense in dwelling over it, although I share your frustration.

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I think you may need to wait and see what the sheriff tells you here, Reb.

 

I think a lot of the situation will depend on the circumstances of the search for the hit and run. That's because the 4th Amendment allows police officers come on to a person's property without a warrant in certain "exigent circumstances". I think either hot pursuit or pursuit in an attempt to prevent the destruction of evidence could very well be possible instances of exigent circumstances that may apply to your particular situation.

 

I'm not saying it doesn't sound questionable...because I think it does, but it may have been at least somewhat within the bounds of the law. Glad to hear you called the sheriff though. I think having feedback from an innocent and "un-involved" party in an investigation is probably a good thing for a sheriff's department to have. If nothing else, it encourages them to look at their protocol and see how they could do things better.

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I think you may need to wait and see what the sheriff tells you here, Reb.

 

I think a lot of the situation will depend on the circumstances of the search for the hit and run. That's because the 4th Amendment allows police officers come on to a person's property without a warrant in certain "exigent circumstances". I think either hot pursuit or pursuit in an attempt to prevent the destruction of evidence could very well be possible instances of exigent circumstances that may apply to your particular situation.

 

I'm not saying it doesn't sound questionable...because I think it does, but it may have been at least somewhat within the bounds of the law. Glad to hear you called the sheriff though. I think having feedback from an innocent and "un-involved" party in an investigation is probably a good thing for a sheriff's department to have. If nothing else, it encourages them to look at their protocol and see how they could do things better.

 

You're correct that the Constitution permits warrantless searches in exigent circumstances. But, what "exigent circumstances" would exist in Rebel's scenario of a hit & run where there clearly was no hot pursuit. After all, if there had been pursuit, the police would not have shown up at the wrong home.

 

I cannot think of any exigent circumstances (off the top of my head) that would justify the police officers' actions in this scenario. I believe that the police made an honest mistake by going to the wrong house, but that doesn't change the fact that they shouldn't be snooping around one's home, particularly at that hour.

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I did get a call from the Sheriff's office in the past hour. Right now the deputy is checking to see who was on that call and will call me back later today. I told the deputy what bothers me the most on this is what method did they use to get by my dogs to look in the garage. I will really be upset if Peppered, Mace, or a Tasered was used.

 

Nothing walks in my yard without the dogs knowing it. Each week I have to remove a fully grown dead raccoon or possum from the yard.

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Reb,

 

I would be furious. In all honesty I would at least contact a lawyer to see what they had to say. There was a well documented case where the police officers in my hometown did something similar to this. Unfortunately for them they did it to the prominent attorney in town. Didn't turn out well for the officers or police department.

 

If they tazed, maced, or pepper sprayed my dog it would be another level of mad.

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Reb,

 

I would be furious. In all honesty I would at least contact a lawyer to see what they had to say. There was a well documented case where the police officers in my hometown did something similar to this. Unfortunately for them they did it to the prominent attorney in town. Didn't turn out well for the officers or police department.

 

If they tazed, maced, or pepper sprayed my dog it would be another level of mad.

 

As long as my dogs where not bothered I will let it go.

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I think it's another fine example of people on here spouting opinions who don't know the whole story. Rebel has presented his side. And once the explanation from the sheriff's department is heard, then we may have a better idea and can form an opinion. But to contact an attorney is ridiculous.

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I think it's another fine example of people on here spouting opinions who don't know the whole story. Rebel has presented his side. And once the explanation from the sheriff's department is heard, then we may have a better idea and can form an opinion. But to contact an attorney is ridiculous.

 

Why would contacting an attorney be ridiculous? Isn't it their job to tell you what your rights are (or aren't?) It seems like that's exactly the type of advice Rebel is looking for here.

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I think it's another fine example of people on here spouting opinions who don't know the whole story. Rebel has presented his side. And once the explanation from the sheriff's department is heard, then we may have a better idea and can form an opinion. But to contact an attorney is ridiculous.
I vehemently disagree. And to say otherwise seems naive. You go to the attorney for advice on what rights of yours may have been violated. I'm not saying to do anything---just that you should seek advice from a professional instead of the internet in a legal situation.

 

Personally, I would go into any potential legal situation with a professional. The smart thing to do in my mind. As G. I. Joe says, "knowing is half the batttle"!

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I have always heard (definitely not saying that makes it right), but have heard that if your door was cracked open then a police officer may enter without a warrant. So, I would imagine the same would be true if your garage door was open. Also, it may be different if the garage isn't attached to the house.

 

Once again, just what I've heard, not sure if its entirely true.

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