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Community-caretaking duties permits warrantless search

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A warrantless search that led to discovery of marijuana and a handgun did not violate the Fourth Amendment because the police found the items as part of their “community-caretaking” duties.

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected Nick McIlquham’s challenge to the search of his apartment and affirmed his convictions in Nick McIlquham v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1212-CR-631. The court ruled the community-caretaking exception to the warrant requirement allowed for this warrantless search.

Two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers searched McIlquham’s apartment over concerns about the welfare of his young daughter who had been found partially naked wandering alone near a retention pond.

They discovered the drugs and loaded .22 caliber handgun. McIlquham was subsequently convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a Class B felony; neglect of a dependent, a class D felony; possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor; and possession of paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor.  

McIlquham appealed, arguing the evidence should have been excluded at his trial. He claimed neither he nor the individual renting the apartment gave permission to the officers to look around which made the search a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The appeals court disagreed on the grounds that the “community-caretaking function” of the police makes the warrantless search objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Police, in addition to their duties to enforce criminal laws, are called upon to do a variety of tasks that enhance and maintain the safety of the community. Questions about McIlquham’s daughter’s home life met the community-caretaking standard.

 “In our view, there were certainly objectively reasonable concerns about McIlquham’s right to retain custody of R. in light of the conditions and circumstances in which she was discovered,” Judge John Baker wrote. “Moreover, not allowing the police to conduct a community-caretaking function to operate in a case such as this one – at least to the extent of allowing a non-violent entry into a home to conduct a cursory visual inspection of the interior of the residence and its occupants – would result in the unreasonableness that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence seeks to avoid.”



 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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