I. The Fourth Amendment Is the Sentinel at the Threshold Guarding Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures.
At the very core of the Fourth Amendment is the right of an individual to be free from governmental intrusion in his own home. Silverman v United States, 365 US 505, 511 (1961). Thus, “the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.” Payton v New York, 445 US 573, 590 (1980). See also United States v United States Dist Court, 407 US 297, 313 (1972) (“Physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.”).
When presented with a question regarding drug-sniffing dogs at the front door of a citizen’s home, the Michigan Court of Appeals stated its strong agreement with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of “the significant privacy interest that an individual has in his or her home.” People v Jones, 279 Mich App 86, 95, 755 NW2d 224 (2008). The Jones court cited with approval a holding of the U.S. Supreme Court that flatly held police cannot legally cross the threshold of a person’s front door without a valid warrant. See Payton v New York, 445 US 573, 590 (1980). “The Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, the threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.” Jones at 95. While the Jones court held that a drug dog sniffing at the front door is not a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes (though a positive hit by a trained dog may provide sufficient probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant), nevertheless, the majority opinion in Jones concluded that police entry into the home without a valid warrant would be illegal and would result in the suppression of any evidence so wrongfully obtained:
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