Warden v. Hayden (1967) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Procedural Law

Warden v. Hayden (1967) was a U.S. Supreme Court case that established the “hot pursuit” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

In Warden v. Hayden (1967), the U.S. Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of a warrantless search of a home conducted by police officers in pursuit of a suspected armed robber. The defendant, Bernard Hayden, had been accused of committing a robbery and was spotted by police officers driving away from the scene of the crime. The officers pursued Hayden to his home and, without a warrant, entered the home to search for him.

Hayden argued that the warrantless search violated his Fourth Amendment rights, which protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the Supreme Court ultimately upheld the search as constitutional, establishing the “hot pursuit” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

The Court reasoned that the need to apprehend a fleeing suspect quickly, combined with the fact that evidence could easily be destroyed or removed if police were required to obtain a warrant, justified the warrantless entry and search of Hayden’s home. The Court emphasized that the scope of the search must be limited to the areas where the suspect could reasonably be expected to be found, and that the search must be conducted as quickly as possible to minimize the intrusion on the suspect’s privacy.

Warden v. Hayden has had a significant impact on criminal procedure in the United States, particularly in cases involving the pursuit of fleeing suspects. The “hot pursuit” exception has been applied in a wide range of contexts, including searches of vehicles and other property, and has been used to justify warrantless searches in cases involving suspected drug offenses, firearms offenses, and other types of criminal activity.

Despite its impact, however, the decision in Warden v. Hayden has been the subject of ongoing debate and controversy. Some legal scholars and civil liberties advocates argue that the “hot pursuit” exception has been overbroadly applied, allowing police to engage in warrantless searches and seizures that violate individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights. Others contend that an exception is a necessary tool for law enforcement to combat crime and protect public safety and that the Court’s decision in Warden v. Hayden struck an appropriate balance between individual privacy rights and the need for effective law enforcement.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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