What is a No-Knock Warrant?

When a judge issues a no-knock warrant, police officers have the right to enter a residence to find evidence of a crime, even if that means breaking into your house.

Home is where people feel the safest. One of the scariest things that a lot of people can imagine is someone breaking into your house while you are home, especially if you are asleep. In general, people choose to buy or rent apartments or houses in the places within their budgets where they think the chances of home break-ins are the lowest. The fear of home break-ins motivates people to buy alarm systems, security cameras, guard dogs, and even firearms. If you or I were to force our way into someone else’s house, we would face criminal charges for burglary, but in some cases, it is legal for law enforcement to do it.

No-knock warrants are legal in 47 U.S. states, including Georgia. If the police have executed a no-knock warrant at your house, you probably feel relieved to still be alive, combined with anger and fear. Remember that no matter what the police found in your house, it does not automatically mean that you are guilty, and if the execution of the no-knock warrant was unjustified, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit. Contact the Norcrosscriminal defense lawyers at Zimmerman & Associates to find out more.

How are No-Knock Warrants Different From Other Warrants?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unlawful search and seizure of private property. Police may not search your residence unless a court gives them permission to do it, by issuing a search warrant. To obtain a search warrant, a member of law enforcement must present to the court a statement about what evidence officers expect to find if they execute the warrant and what crime they think it indicates. It has to be much more specific than just saying that they think you are trouble.

In an ordinary search warrant, officers can only arrive during hours of the daytime or evening when residents are expected to be awake. They must knock, announce that they are law enforcement officers, and wait at least 30 seconds before entering the residence by force.

No-Knock Warrants are Scary

Throughout the history of no-knock warrants, many Americans have considered them a violation of constitutional rights. They began during the Nixon administration’s War on Drugs, and President Reagan expanded their use. They involve a great risk of violent confrontation, since 40% of U.S. households have firearms, and the castle doctrine allows people to use weapons specifically in situations like these.

The violence associated with no-knock warrants is not mere potential. Between 2010 and 2016, 96 people, including 13 police officers, were killed during the execution of no-knock warrants. More recently, Breonna Taylor and Amir Locke are only the most famous victims of no-knock warrant violence; there have also been many others. Here in the Atlanta area,Kathryn Johnston, 92, was killed after using a firearm to try to scare away what she thought were burglars but were police who had mistakenly entered the wrong house to execute a no-knock warrant. Bounkham Phonesanvh, 19 months, suffered severe injuries when police threw a grenade into his bedroom during a no-knock warrant search; his family’s house contained no drugs nor weapons, and the defendants for whom the police were looking did not live there.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Criminal Defense Cases

An Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you if you are facing criminal charges after a search of your residence. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia to set up a free consultation.