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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. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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