As a general rule, police officers cannot enter a home without a warrant. While exceptions do exist, they are somewhat rare and are better left for another blog post. Once a police officer obtains a search or arrest warrant, the officer must comply with all procedural guidelines governing the execution of warrants. If officers disobey these guidelines, any evidence seized as a result of the search or arrest may be deemed inadmissible by the court. In addition, a defendant can challenge the issuance of the search warrant in certain circumstances.
One issue that frequently comes up is when police officers can forcefully enter a home to execute a search or arrest warrant. Generally speaking, if a valid warrant is issued, officers may approach the house named in the warrant and enter that home. However, under New York law, a police officer must first knock, announce their presence as police, and give the occupant an opportunity to answer before entering forcefully. This is known as the “knock and announce rule.”
New York Laws sections 690.50 (search warrants) and 120.80 (arrest warrants) provide for the specific procedures that must be followed when executing a warrant. Both statutes require an officer serving a warrant knock and announce their presence, and both statutes also contain exceptions when an officer is permitted to forcefully enter a home without first complying with the knock-and-announce rule.
For example, under section 120.80, officers do not need to knock and announce when executing an arrest warrant if doing so may 1.) result in the defendant escaping, 2.) endanger the lives of police or other citizens, or 3.) result in the destruction of evidence. Section 690.50, on the other hand, only allows for officers to bypass the knock-and-announce rule if they have a reasonable belief that the home is unoccupied or the search warrant specifically provides for an unannounced entry.
Once an officer knocks and announces their presence, they must wait a reasonable amount of time for the occupant to answer and allow them entrance. However, as a recent case confirms, if no one answers the door, the officers will likely be justified in making a forced entry. In that case, the police had an arrest warrant for the defendant’s sister, and approached her home with the intent to execute that warrant. The officers knocked and announced their presence, but no one answered. The officers then entered the home, finding the defendant who was wanted for an unrelated crime. The defendant made a statement to police upon his arrest, and later moved to suppress that statement based on the officers’ violation of the knock-and-announce rule. However, the court denied the defendant’s motion because the officers complied with the rule’s requirements before they forcefully entered the home.
Have You Been Arrested after the Execution of a Warrant?
If you have recently been arrested and charged with a crime in New York after the execution of a search or arrest warrant, you may be able to challenge the evidence that was seized as a result of the warrant through a motion to suppress. At the New York criminal defense law firm of Tilem & Associates, we have decades of combined experience handling New York criminal defense matters, and possess a deep understanding of the state’s substantive and procedural laws, including search and seizure laws, which we put to use in defending our clients. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 877-377-8666 to schedule your free consultation today.