Everyone has seen the police knock down doors in the movies or on television. How often does it happen in real life though? More often than you might think. In general, police must follow the “knock and announce” rule before kicking in your door. This means that they must knock on the door and tell you that they are police with a warrant. The officers are then supposed to wait a reasonable amount of time to let you answer the door yourself and prevent violence or undue damage.
In reality, though, police sometimes wait very different amounts of time before actually knocking down the door. Usually, if the crime is serious or you have been arrested and run before, this announcement will come right before the door is kicked in. There is no standard amount of time that police must wait, making this a subjective judgment call. Courts have upheld waiting times as short as just 15 seconds. Even if the announcement is forgone entirely, the judge may not immediately throw out the evidence found in the ensuing search.
Similarly, there are two exceptions to the knock and announce rule. First, exigent circumstances can warrant immediate entry. This means that there is some sort of emergency situation, like hearing someone scream for help, or there is valid suspicion that evidence is being destroyed, such as hearing a suspect use a shredder. The second exemption is if the judge gives prior permission to enter without announcing. Usually this is granted if police officers can demonstrate a valid fear that it could be dangerous for officers to announce their presence. For example, a judge often grants this if suspects have along history of violence against police.
What Should I Do If the Police Come Knock on My Door with a Search Warrant?
No one wants his or her door knocked down. This can be quite a hassle to deal with. If police have a valid search warrant, you cannot refuse them entry simply by ignoring their knocks. In order to prevent the police from forcibly entering your house and for the warrant to be executed smoothly, follow these six steps.
- Come to the door quickly and shut it behind you to inquire why the police have come. If they do not have a warrant, this prevents them from entering your house without cause and it allows you time to find out the purpose of the police’s visit.
- Ask to inspect the warrant. Make sure it is valid by carefully checking that the address is correct and a judge has signed the warrant. Also, make sure that the area of the search is specified. They only have the right to look at things directly in the scope of the warrant.
- Be polite and do not try to prevent police action, but do not confirm that you consent to a search. Tell the police that you are not agreeing to any search, but that you will not prevent them from searching the area specified in the warrant. In this case, an attorney will have cause to review the validity of the search later.
- Call an experienced Cincinnati criminal lawyer. If you have a Cincinnati criminal lawyer already, make sure they are aware of what is going on and can possibly send a representative to help. If you do not have an attorney, now is the time to retain counsel. A search warrant is a clear indication that you are being investigated for something. A lawyer will be able to ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire experience.
- Record or photograph the search from the distance. Don’t get in the way of police, but make sure to get evidence of everything they do while in your house. If you feel that they are violating the scope of the search warrant, speak up politely. Having this on film later will help your case.
- Get a receipt for anything taken. Ask the police for a full inventory of items seized during the search and make sure you have a copy before they leave.
Please note that this blog post does not constitute legal advice. If you are looking for legal help, please contact Cincinnati criminal lawyer Brad Groene for a free legal consultation.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to get through a search warrant with the least amount of trouble. When you are being investigated, it can be stressful for your entire family. Get the support you need in this time from experienced Cincinnati criminal lawyer Brad Groene. Call Luftman, Heck & Associates today at (513) 338-1890 for a free consultation on your case.