Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms New Trial for Defendant After Unlawful Arrest Occurred in her Home

The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures of themselves or their property by law enforcement. The Fourth Amendment holds especially dear the sanctity of a person’s home in determining whether a search or arrest is reasonable. In Michigan, people are protected from arrest in their homes unless a law enforcement officer has a warrant to enter the home or probable cause that the defendant has committed a serious crime. The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court’s decision to suppress confession and breath test evidence and grant a defendant a new trial after she was arrested in her home by a law enforcement officer without a warrant or probable cause.

The defendant in the recently decided case was arrested and ultimately convicted of a DUI offense after she left the scene of a single-vehicle accident and returned home using a rideshare service. Police recovered her vehicle and traced the owner to her home using the registration information. According to the facts discussed in the judicial opinion, when police arrived at the home, the defendant was not interested in talking to the police and did not want to leave her home to be questioned by them. The defendant passed the officer her ID upon request, and when she reached her arm out to retrieve the ID, the arresting officer grabbed her arm and attempted to arrest her for leaving the scene of an accident. A scuffle ensued, and the officer eventually arrested the woman inside her home. After her arrest, the woman admitted to causing the accident, as well as drinking alcohol previously in the night, and she submitted to a breath alcohol test.

At trial, the defendant attempted to suppress all of the evidence obtained after the arrest, arguing that she was protected in her home and the police could not enter or arrest her without a warrant. The trial judge denied her motion to suppress, finding that she reached her arm outside the home, and the officer was justified in grabbing her and arresting her for the hit-and-run accident. After her conviction, the defendant appealed the decision to deny her motion to suppress, ultimately finding herself before the Michigan Supreme Court. The high court did not agree with the trial court’s reasoning. It held that the arrest was illegal, as the defendant made clear she didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of her home to be questioned. There was no warrant or probable cause that she had committed a serious enough offense to justify the officers’ decision to take her into custody from her home. As a result of the Supreme Court decision, the trial court excluded the evidence that was illegally obtained and ultimately granted the defendant a new trial. In the most recently decided case, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision to exclude the evidence and grant the defendant a new trial. Because of these rulings, the prosecution will most likely not have sufficient evidence to pursue charges against the defendant going forward.

How to Find Competent Legal Help After Being Charged with a Crime

Law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing the law while upholding the rights of all citizens and residents. Unfortunately, law enforcement routinely violates the rights of defendants when attempting to gather evidence or make an arrest. A defendant who has been illegally arrested or charged as a result of illegally obtained evidence should not be charged, let alone convicted, of a crime. The veteran Michigan criminal defense attorneys at Michigan Defense Law understand how to suppress evidence obtained in violation of a client’s constitutional rights. We are dedicated to holding law enforcement accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a Michigan criminal offense, contact our offices and find out how we can help with your case. Our skilled lawyers represent clients charged with all types of crimes, including Michigan DUIs, OWI, and traffic offenses. Contact our office at 248-451-2200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

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