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Name: Brigham City v. Stuart
Case #: 05-502
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 05/22/2006
Subsequent History: 126 S.Ct. 1943; 164 L.Ed.2d 650

Police may enter a home without a warrant when they have an objectively reasonable basis for believing that an occupant is seriously injured or imminently threatened with such injury. Responding to a 3 a.m. call about a loud party, police arrived at a house and heard shouting. Police went into the backyard and saw a fight going on inside through a screen door and windows. Officers saw a minor strike an adult in the face and the adult spit blood into the sink. Police entered the home, and subsequently arrested the defendants for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, disorderly conduct and intoxication. The trial court granted a motion to suppress on the grounds that neither the emergency doctrine or the exigent circumstances exception applied. The United States Supreme Court reversed. An exigency which obviates the warrant requirement is the need to assist people who are seriously injured or threatened with such injury. The officers had an objectively reasonable basis for believing both that the injured adult might need help and that the violence was just beginning. The Fourth Amendment did not require them to wait until another blow rendered someone unconscious, semi-conscious, or worse before entering.