Police Entering Without a Warrant and Finding Drugs After a Girl Was Found Crying Outside Her Apartment
In People v. Smith, 7 Cal. 3d 282, 496 P.2d 1261, 101 Cal. Rptr. 893 (Cal. 1972), the police were summoned when a six-year-old girl was found crying outside her apartment at 5 p.m.
Although the girl informed the officer that her mother was not inside the apartment, the officer knocked on the door "to find out if the mother was there, if she could take care of her daughter, and if she may need any help." Id. at 1263.
Receiving no answer, the officer entered without a warrant and found marijuana in plain view.
The California Supreme Court affirmed suppression of the evidence.
It explained that "a six-year-old girl is obviously competent to state whether her mother is at home or not." Id. Further, the court determined that "there was not a scintilla of evidence to support the assumption that the mother had not only returned unnoticed to her flat but had thereupon suddenly fainted, fallen sick, or otherwise become incapacitated. " Id. at 1264.
Thus, "the belief upon which the officer acted was the product not of facts known to or observed by him, but of his fanciful attempt to rationalize silence into a justification for his warrantless entry." Id.