hot pursuit

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The hot pursuit doctrine provides that police may pursue a fleeing suspect into a home without a warrant when they have probable cause to make an arrest and when that arrest was already in motion in a public place within their jurisdiction. See: United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38 (1976). Hot pursuit is an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement which provides that police officers need an arrest warrant before they can enter a home to make an arrest. If a felony has just occurred and an officer has chased a suspect to a private residence, the officer can forcefully enter the residence to prevent imminent injury, the destruction of evidence, or the suspect’s escape. Courts generally apply this on a case-by-case basis, after a review of the totality of the circumstances facing the officer at the time.

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]