PA: Warrantless entry for mental health check unjustified for lack of danger

The warrantless police entry into defendant’s home for a mental health check wasn’t justified by the facts because of a lack of danger. The plain view is suppressed for lack of a proper view. Commonwealth v. Schneider, 2020 Pa. Super. LEXIS 775 (Sept. 9, 2020):

Nevertheless, even considering those comments, we agree with Appellant that the facts known to Lieutenant Love when he entered Appellant’s home without a warrant were not sufficient for the lieutenant to reasonably believe that Appellant required immediate assistance. Certainly, Appellant’s statements in the mental health report, and to the officers on the porch of his residence, were odd. However, none of his remarks were threatening, combative, or violent, and Officer Deloe testified that Appellant made no threatening gestures during the 20 to 30 second interaction the officers had with him on his porch. See N.T. Suppression Hearing at 51. Furthermore, Appellant’s statements did not indicate an intent to hurt himself or anyone else, and there was no indication that he had a weapon or that anyone else was inside his residence. Id. Moreover, both officers testified that Appellant was dressed, he did not look hurt or malnourished, and nothing indicated that he was suicidal or inclined to harm himself. Id. at 29, 30-31, 51. Accordingly, we agree with Appellant that these facts do not demonstrate that Lieutenant Love reasonably believed that Appellant required immediate assistance because he posed a danger to himself.

Instead, the record indicates that Lieutenant Love made the decision to enter Appellant’s home because he reasonably believed that further investigation of Appellant’s mental health was necessary. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Livingstone demonstrates that the Court did not intend the public servant exception to permit an officer to enter an individual’s home without a warrant simply to ‘investigate’ if that person needs assistance. …

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