In 1973, the Supreme Court case Cady v. Dombrowski created the “community caretaking exception,” which allows an unconstitutional warrantless search of an automobile where the search is conducted by law enforcement in an attempt to protect the general public from harm, as opposed to a search conducted during the course of a criminal investigation. (Circuit Splits 2013) This is an exception can be used in crisis situations for the greater good.
The case goes as the following: In the town of Cady in Wisconsin, police officers searched Dombrowski’s car for a handgun. During the time of the search Dombrowski was in a coma in a local hospital after a motor vehicle accident. The police officers knew that he was a Chicago police officer and was required to carry his revolver with them at all times. (Call 2012)
During the initial search Dombrowski’s revolver was not found in a search of the rental car he was driving at the time of the accident. The police returned to the rental car to look again for the service revolver, so it would not end up in the wrong hands. (Call 2012) Through this secondary search evidence of a possible crime was revealed to police officers. Information resulted in the police discovering the body of a murder victim and evidence linking Dombrowski to the killing. (Call 2012) Dombrowski was charged with murder by the police resulting from the search. This case was the foundation of these types of searches being justified by police officers during special circumstances.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: "No person shall
References: Call, J. (2012). The Community Caretaker Function Exception to the Warrant Requirement Retrieved from: http://www.vachiefs.org/vapleac/vplb/7-1/aug12_caregiver.htm Circuit Splits. (2012). New Exception Allowing Warrantless Home Entries Headed to the High Court? Retrieved from: http://www.circuitsplits.com/community-caretaker-exception/ Salzberg, K. (2006). The dog that didn’t bark: Assessing damages for valid regulatory takings. Retrieved from: http://lawlibrary.unm.edu/nrj/46/1/05_salzberg_dog.pdf The Free Dictionary. (2013) Fourth Amendment. Retrieved from: http://legal- dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Fourth+Amendment