Warrantless Searches And The Watertown Manhunt

In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the manhunt in Watertown, MA for the two suspects, many people have asked me whether it is constitutional for the police to set of up a perimeter in a town and search–without a warrant–every house in the perimeter for potentially armed and dangerous suspects. 

Of course, there is no Fourth Amendment problem with the search if the occupants of the house give their consent, assuming it was not obtained under duress.  But what if they do not consent?  Must the police obtain a warrant, or does the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requirement apply? Read the rest of this entry »