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What is the knock-and-announce rule?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2018 | Criminal Defense

Police in Florida and throughout the U.S. are required to follow a procedure known as the “knock-and-announce” rule. It applies to officers who are executing a search warrant and bars them from immediately forcing their way into a dwelling.

According to Cornell Law School, this rule is important in a judge’s consideration of how reasonable a search is under the Fourth Amendment, and it goes into their decision to approve a search warrant. Its guidelines are that police must knock and then identify themselves and why they are present. Then they must wait for a “reasonable time,” which is intended to give occupants the opportunity to open the door and allow police to enter.

The nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court, names a variety of reasons for following this rule. They include limiting damages to the property, protecting the dignity and privacy of the people living there and avoiding injuries to all involved, police and occupants. What the rule does not do, however, is protect residents from property seizure. Neither does it provide a blanket protection against all violations of the rule that police may commit.

Exceptions to this rule are when a knock-and-announce would be “unreasonable,” such as when doing so opens police to risk of injury or provides residents ample time to destroy the evidence being sought. These exceptions are applied on a case-by-case basis.

Law enforcement officers may request a “no-knock” warrant ahead of time if they think an entry is validated upon serving the warrant. This is particularly the situation in felony drug cases.

This article provides information on search warrants and police procedure. However, it is not intended to be legal advice.