Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers Warrantless Search

When is a “No-Knock” Entry Legal?

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Can Police Enter a House Without Knocking or Obtaining a Warrant | No-Knock Entry Defense Lawyers, Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers Warrantless SearchThe Fourth Amendment, generally, protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Nevertheless, there are exceptions that allow police officers the ability to enter one’s home without a warrant or notice. These instances are commonly called “No-Knock” entries and are permitted only when a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their entry would be dangerous or futile.

In Trent v. Wade, the Defendant, a police officer, witnessed two all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) racing on a closed section of a freeway. He attempted to pull over the two ATV riders, but they both fled, and the Defendant followed one rider to the Plaintiff’s house. The Defendant parked outside and entered the house without a warrant, upon which he encountered the Plaintiff and discovered that his son was the person riding the ATV. The Defendant arrested the son, and the Plaintiff sued the Defendant under 42 U.S.C § 1983 claiming that the Defendant violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by entering his house unannounced and without a warrant.

The Defendant argued that because he was in hot pursuit of the Plaintiff’s son, the hot pursuit exception authorized his unannounced warrantless entry into the Plaintiff’s house. However, in order to justify a “no-knock” entry, the police officer must reasonably suspect that knocking and announcing his or her entry would be dangerous or futile. Such an entry is futile when the occupants of a house are already aware of the police officer’s presence outside. The Court ultimately held that while the Plaintiff’s son was aware of the Defendant’s presence, there was a question of fact about whether the other occupant’s of the house were aware of his presence.

Consequentially, the Defendant was denied qualified immunity.