The exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement has long bedeviled law enforcement officials and judges alike, presenting challenges both in its doctrinal boundaries and practical application. In Kentucky v. King, the Supreme Court confronted the difficult question of whether, and to what extent, police may rely on exigent circumstances of their own creation in conducting a warrantless search. Rejecting the "welter of tests" developed by lower courts, the Court determined that the exigent circumstances rule permits a warrantless entry where "the police did not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment." Is the Court’s decision laudable for adopting a clear, bright-line rule to protect Fourth Amendment rights while guiding law enforcement in preventing the destruction of evidence? Or is the King rule nothing more than a tool with which the police may "knock, listen, then break the door down," as Justice Ginsburg argued in her dissent? This Note evaluates the Court’s holding and its decision-making process, weighs the various tests the Court considered and rejected, and delves into the risks posed and benefits enjoyed by the King rule in an effort to predict how the decision will shape the future of Fourth Amendment doctrine.
“Knock, Listen, then Break the Door Down”?
The Police‐Created Exigency Doctrine After Kentucky v. King
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