CACI 3027 Affirmative Defense—Emergency

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

3027 Affirmative Defense—Emergency

[Name of defendant] claims that a search warrant was not required. To succeed on this defense, [name of defendant] must prove that a peace officer, under the circumstances, would have reasonably believed that violence was imminent and that there was an immediate need to protect [[himself/herself/nonbinary pronoun]/ [or] another person] from serious harm.

Directions for Use

The emergency defense is similar to the exigent circumstances defense. (See CACI No. 3026, Affirmative Defense—Exigent Circumstances.) Emergency requires imminent violence and a need to protect from harm. In contrast, exigent circumstances is broader, reaching such things as a need to prevent escape or the destruction of evidence. (See Hopkins v. Bonvicino (9th Cir. 2009) 573 F.3d 752, 763.)

Sources and Authority

“ ‘There are two general exceptions to the warrant requirement for home searches: exigency and emergency.’ These exceptions are ‘narrow’ and their boundaries are ‘rigorously guarded’ to prevent any expansion that would unduly interfere with the sanctity of the home. In general, the difference between the two exceptions is this: The ‘emergency’ exception stems from the police officers’ ‘community caretaking function’ and allows them ‘to respond to emergency situations’ that threaten life or limb; this exception does ‘not [derive from] police officers’ function as criminal investigators.’ By contrast, the ‘exigency’ exception does derive from the police officers’ investigatory function; it allows them to enter a home without a warrant if they have both probable cause to believe that a crime has been or is being committed and a reasonable belief that their entry is ‘necessary to prevent … the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts.’ (Hopkins, supra, 573 F.3d at p. 763, original italics, internal citations omitted.)

“We previously have recognized that officers acting in their community caretaking capacities and responding to a perceived emergency may conduct certain searches without a warrant or probable cause. To determine whether the emergency exception applies to a particular warrantless search, we examine whether: ‘(1) considering the totality of the circumstances, law enforcement had an objectively reasonable basis for concluding that there was an immediate need to protect others or themselves from serious harm; and (2) the search’s scope and manner were reasonable to meet the need.’ ” (Ames v. King County (9th Cir. 2017) 846 F.3d 340, 350.)

“The testimony that a reasonable officer would have perceived an immediate threat to his safety is, at a minimum, contradicted by certain portions of the record. The facts matter, and here, there are triable issues of fact as to whether ‘violence was imminent,’ and whether [defendant]’s warrantless entry was justified under the emergency exception.” (Sandoval v. Las Vegas Metro. Police Dept. (9th Cir. 2014) 756 F.3d 1154, 1165, internal citation omitted.)

“In sum, reasonable police officers in petitioners’ position could have come to the conclusion that the Fourth Amendment permitted them to enter the … residence if there was an objectively reasonable basis for fearing that violence was imminent.” (Ryburn v. Huff (2012) 565 U.S. 469, 477 [132 S.Ct. 987, 181 L.Ed.2d 966].)

“[W]e have refused to hold that ‘domestic abuse cases create a per se’ emergency justifying warrantless entry. [¶] Indeed, all of our decisions involving a police response to reports of domestic violence have required an objectively reasonable basis for believing that an actual or imminent injury was unfolding in the place to be entered.” (Bonivert v. City of Clarkston (9th Cir. 2018) 883 F.3d 865, 877, original italics, internal citations omitted.)

“[O]fficer safety may also fall under the emergency rubric.” (Sandoval, supra, 756 F.3d at p. 1163.)

Secondary Sources

8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Constitutional Law, §§ 888, 892, 893
3 Civil Rights Actions, Ch. 10, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of State Law—Law Enforcement and Prosecution, ¶ 10.04 (Matthew Bender)
11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 113, Civil Rights: The Post-Civil War Civil Rights Statutes, § 113.14 (Matthew Bender)