Exceptions to the General Warrant Requirement In Michigan

In In re Forfeiture of $ 176,598, 443 Mich. 261, 264-265; 505 N.W.2d 201 (1993), the Michigan Supreme Court considered the exigent circumstances exception to the general warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment: Pursuant to the exigent circumstances exception, we hold that the police may enter a dwelling without a warrant if the officers possess probable cause to believe that a crime was recently committed on the premises, and probable cause to believe that the premises contain evidence or perpetrators of the suspected crime. The police must further establish the existence of an actual emergency on the basis of specific and objective facts indicating that immediate action is necessary to: (1) prevent the imminent destruction of evidence; (2) protect the police officers or others, or; (3) prevent the escape of a suspect. If the police discover evidence of a crime following the entry without a warrant, that evidence may be admissible. As pointed out by the Court in People v. Blasius, 435 Mich. 573, 583; 459 N.W.2d 906 (1990), "the risk of destruction or removal of evidence may constitute an exigent circumstance exception to the warrant requirement." The Blasius Court, after observing that the "precise contours of the exigent circumstances exception remain hazy," id., stated that "'our decisions have recognized that a warrantless entry by criminal law enforcement officials may be legal where there is compelling need for official action and no time to secure a warrant,'" id., n 7, quoting Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 509; 98 S. Ct. 1942; 56 L. Ed. 2d 486 (1978). See also People v. Williams, 160 Mich. App. 656, 664-665; 408 N.W.2d 415 (1987), where the Court found that there were exigent circumstances justifying the police entry into the defendant's home if the police officers were not in a position to secure the premises and to wait for the issuance of a warrant without putting themselves at risk or running the risk that the crime in progress might continue.