If police are advised that a burglar alarm has been "set off," does that in itself mean police can intrude into the home to determine the cause of the alarm, absent evidence to the contrary?

1 Answer 1



If a police person has probable cause to believe a crime is in the process of happening then he or she can enter premises without a warrant.

Under the exigent circumstances doctrine some people must be under danger, evidence must be in danger of being destroyed or a suspect must be fleeing.

If these circumstances have been proven then plain view doctrine applies to any evidence or contraband seen in the process on which these circumstances hinged.

It is probably safe to assume that a police officer responding to an alarm is justified in believing some people may be at risk of harm.

Probable cause is considered at the time of entry. There are a myriad of things that can lead to a false alarm but the police person cannot know this unless he or she investigates.

  • It is a nice answer +1. But I think that the OP was interested in learning if the activated alarm was in itself enough to justify the probable cause. You address that in your last paragraph but that point is far from conclusive ("probably safe to assume") and I can think of several fringe cases when it would not be enough. For example, the police officer itself activating the alarm, or the police officer that the alarm was activated by someone who threw and stone and then fled.
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 21:05
  • The answer is incorrect, as exigency is an exception to the probable-cause requirement, not an example of probable cause. And even then, a tripped burglar alarm is not necessarily sufficient to establish exigency.
    – bdb484
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 19:28

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