Legal Dictionary

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Emergency Exception

When there is an emergency, an exception can be made to the defendant's 4th amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. A police officer can enter a dwelling and conduct a search without a warrant if the officer has probable cause and reasonably believes that the search is immediately necessary to protect life or property. Under normal circumstances, the police officer would need a search warrant. If there is no warrant, then anything seized would not be allowed as evidence, since the search would violate the defendant's 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The emergency exception makes the evidence discovered admissible. The emergency exception is also referred to as the “emergency doctrine.”