Around 7:00 p.m. last Thursday night Lynn, Massachusetts Police responded to a call reporting shots on Landers Street. The officers were directed to a man who was bleeding from his shoulder and had apparently been shot. While investigating the incident the officers noticed bullet holes at 7 Lander Street. The officers went into the home to look for shooting victims. No one was home. The officers continued to search the home. They opened a closet and a metal box inside the closet. Inside they found ammunition. Police then applied for and obtained a search warrant. They returned and found Sereca Prom at the residence. They continued their search and found several bags of marijuana. Prom supposedly confessed that the marijuana was hers. She has been charged with Possession of Ammunition and Possession of Marijuana. The case is being prosecuted in the Lynn District Court.
Once again, the strength of the district attorney’s case here hinges on the legality of the initial search. While typically there is a requirement that no search be conducted without a Search Warrant, there are exceptions. Potentially applicable to this case is the “exigent circumstances” exception. Police are permitted in certain situations to bypass the search warrant requirement where they need certain flexibility to the events at the scene of a crime. Here, the prosecution will argue that the officers were permitted to enter Prom’s home to attend to possible shooting victims. The defense will likely argue that once they found no victim they had a duty to leave the home. The subsequent search violated Prom’s rights requiring suppression of the ammunition seized. Additionally, the Search Warrant was obtained on the basis of unlawfully found evidence. The defendant will argue that the Search Warrant therefore should not have issued and that the subsequent search of Prom’s home should be suppressed.
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