Can a cop walk into my backyard with no notice?

I have a preliminary hearing in 3 days and I have a small possession charge and an underage, I’m 20. But the cops just walked onto my backyard while I was having a fire. Their excuse was that they thought it was a brush fire but you can clearly see from the road it’s contained. I was wondering if this is legal? Since they walked through tree other back yards to get to mine. And they didn’t turn their flashlights

on until they were in my backyard, so we couldn’t see them. Also, there are no

trespassing signs before you get to my yard.

Asked on April 25, 2017 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It will come down to whether the judge believes that it was reasonable that the fire might have been uncontained or posed a threat, and so the police were justified in investigating. Presumably, the police will testify that was the case; you will testify that it was not. Who do you think the judge will believe: several sworn, trained, neutral (that is, no personal stake in the outcome) police officers, or one 20-year old trying to avoid punishment? If the judge believes the  officers that they had reasonable grounds to investigate the fire, then their entry, and any evidence they found, is legal and admissible.


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