When the police have information about a crime, they can seek to obtain a search warrant to enter a person’s home or place of business to obtain evidence in the case. A judge must approve a search warrant in most instances, so law enforcement may not simply enter someone’s home without approval. In some cases, the police may be allowed to enter the premises without having to announce their presence or knock at the door.
What is a “No-Knock” Search Warrant?
A typical search warrant allows law enforcement officers to search someone’s premises using what is called the knock and announce rule. A “no-knock” search warrant authorizes police to enter the premises without knocking or announcing their presence. The police may use a no-knock search warrant in instances in which the announcement could lead to the destruction of evidence or where the safety of the police is in jeopardy. Officers must take steps to independently verify the circumstances of the warrant, even after it was approved by a judge.
Why do the Police Use Search Warrants?
The police utilize search warrants to gather evidence and take individuals into custody. One of the most common uses of search warrants is in gathering evidence in drug cases. There may be a significant amount of illegal drugs located at a home and the police want to find and confiscate the contraband. The police do not typically want to announce their presence, although most often a warrant requires them to do so. When the judge deems it necessary, he or she may allow the use of a warrant without such announcement or knocking at the door.
What if Law Enforcement Enters the Wrong Home?
A recent case made headlines when the police entered the wrong home using a no-knock warrant. One of the residents used his gun to shoot at the police and they shot back, fatally injuring a woman resident. In this instance, the “stand your ground” law collided with the “no-knock” search warrant with deadly results. A person is allowed to use a weapon to defend himself or property. Although the law is not meant to allow the use of a weapon on police, law enforcement did not properly identify themselves as police because they were serving a no-knock warrant. If the police enter the wrong home, they are generally responsible for the consequences.
What can I do if I Think I Have a Search Warrant?
First, you can find out if there is a search warrant for you by calling the police station or having a friend or attorney call on your behalf. If you have an outstanding warrant, it may be in your best interest to allow the police to search. Remember that you have no obligation to speak to the police while they are conducting a search. You have the right to an attorney during questioning, and what you say can be used against you in court. Consult with an attorney if you think you have an outstanding warrant. Your lawyer will review your case and discuss your options. To learn more about search warrants and for legal representation, contact Henderson Legal Group for a free consultation.