Michigan’s Highest Court to Decide If Police Can Enter Backyard Without a Warrant
Can the police simply walk into your backyard without a warrant? This is a decision that the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to determine, and depending on the verdict, drug enforcement tactics could experience a drastic change across the state.
At the core of the issue is a case involving a St. Joseph County residence, where two deputies took it upon themselves to investigate the property without a warrant. Essentially, the officers knocked at the front door to talk to the resident, but when they didn’t get answer, they moved to the back to try again. It was there that officers smelled marijuana permeating from the house, which led to them coming back later with a search warrant.
Already, the state appeals court has determined that the two officers did not violate the occupant’s rights. However, one judge has argued that police need a warrant before entering the backyard.
The argument, which will have to take into consideration the passing of medical marijuana, is expected to be ruled on later this year. In other states, there have been similar cases where the smell of marijuana or other indicators of cultivation have been removed as probable cause due to the state's medical marijuana laws.