Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants


The government filed a petition for rehearing en banc, in which it noted that it had not raised on appeal the question whether the independent-source and inevitable-discovery doctrines applied to permit the ad mission of the evidence in this case, but observed that this Court had since granted certiorari in Hudson v. Michigan, cert. The government requested that its petition be held for Hudson. The court denied the government's petition for en banc review. The question presented in this case is whether the court of appeals correctly held that the exclusionary rule required the suppression of evidence seized pursuant to a valid search warrant where the executing officers en tered the premises unannounced, believing that the facts gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of danger.

Although respondent has opposed application of the good-faith, independent-source, and inevitable-discovery doctrines to a knock-and-announce violation, he has never dis puted that the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant search-respondent's extensive cache of weapons and explosives-would have been discovered even if the offi cers had first knocked and announced their presence.

Accordingly, this case presents the question now before the Court in Hudson v. Michigan, No. The officers in this case had ample reason to believe that respondent was armed when they approached his house to execute a search warrant for drugs. They were familiar with respondent, having executed a search war rant at a different house occupied by him four years ear lier. On that occasion, respondent ignored their re peated demands that he open his door, forcing the offi cers to use a battering ram to enter.

When they broke through the front door, the officers saw respondent standing at one end of a short hallway and a loaded handgun sitting on top of a clothes basket at the other end. They found additional loaded firearms in respon dent's bedroom. Four years later, the officers received a tip that respondent had drugs and an automatic weapon in his garage. Investigating the tip, the officers learned that the garage was attached to respondent's house, and they found marijuana seeds and soiled cloths of the sort used to clean firearms in his trash.

No-knock warrant

Fearing for their safety, the officers took the precaution of ap plying for a "no-knock" search warrant, that is, one that not only permitted them to search respondent's house for drugs, but also permitted them to enter unan nounced. A local Kansas judge agreed with their assess ment of danger, adding a no-knock clause to the war rant, but the courts below disagreed and held that the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant must be sup pressed. The district court rejected the government's argu ments that the good-faith exception applied, and more broadly held that the independent-source and inevitable- discovery doctrines did not apply in the context of a knock-and-announce violation.

Although the government did not renew the indepen dent- source and inevitable-discovery issues on appeal, it did challenge the district court's good-faith ruling. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's good- faith holding, id. Reh'g Pet. In Hudson, this Court is considering whether knock- and-announce violations should result in the exclusion of all evidence seized pursuant to a lawful search warrant.

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Its decision will undoubtedly bear on the question whether the weapons and explosives seized from respon dent's bedroom were properly suppressed in this case. Accordingly, the petition for a writ of certiorari should be held pending a decision in Hudson, and disposed of as appropriate in light of the Court's disposition of that case. The petition for a writ of certiorari should be held pending this Court's decision in Hudson v.


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On November 16, , the district court Judge Julie A. Robinson , suppressed evidence from the search in light of the court of appeals' decision in this case.

The government has appealed that decision. In Moore, an informant told the officers that a crack dealer and another man on the premises "were armed with an unknown type of firearm.


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The court of appeals held that "[t]he mere statement that firearms are present, standing alone, is insufficient" to justify a no-knock entry. In the district court, the government sought a continuance of the trial date so that the Solicitor General could review the case and decide whether to seek review in this Court. The district court denied the continuance motion, and a motion to reconsider, and dismissed the indictment for want of prosecution.

The government has appealed that dismissal, and that appeal is now pending in the Tenth Circuit. We must decide whether law enforcement officers violated Lawrence D.

Introductions, Please

Nielson's Fourth Amendment rights when they executed a search warrant that authorized them to enter his home without complying with the Fourth Amendment's knock and announce requirement. Finding under the totality of the circumstances that officers were obligated to knock and announce prior to entering, the district court suppressed evidence seized during the search. Because we take the district court's view that law enforcement officers failed to demonstrate that they had an objectively reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing would be dangerous or futile, we AFFIRM.

Law enforcement officials received an anonymous Crime Stoppers report that a person named Danny Mills or Danny Nielson possessed an automatic weapon kept in the loft in his garage and possessed narcotics in a work bench in the garage. Coffman determined that Nielson had previously been arrested in for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and had pled no contest to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Relying on the tip and the circumstances of the search, he sought a search warrant authorizing police officers to search the residence without complying with the Fourth Amendment's "knock and announce" requirement.

Finding that probable cause existed to support the search warrant with a "no-knock" exemption, a Geary County district judge signed the warrant granting authority to the police to search the home of Nielson and Caroline Vigil. In executing the warrant the following morning at a.

Know Your Rights!

A loaded. In the garage they found millimeter military rounds, and an M21 artillery simulator. Detectives also seized small amounts of marijuana and smoking devices found in the garage workbench and bedroom. Both Nielson and Vigil were arrested. In support of the application for a no-knock warrant, Detective Coffman provided an affidavit reciting three facts to establish probable cause for the search and to support reasonable suspicion for an exemption to the knock and announce requirement.

First, police conducted a search of Nielson's home pursuant to a search warrant four years earlier. When executing the search, a loaded gun was found on top of a laundry basket outside a master bedroom, although both Nielson and Vigil were located between the kitchen and living room.

Little Rock man claims police falsified ‘no-knock’ search affidavit

That search uncovered five weapons and marijuana which resulted in Nielson being charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Second, police received a Crime Stoppers anonymous report in August that Nielson possessed an automatic weapon and narcotics which were located in the garage. Third, detectives searched Nielson's garbage which revealed marijuana seeds, and "five round cloth patches" which they believed to have been used to clean firearms.

In his affidavit, Coffman therefore requested "a no-knock search warrant for officer's safety based on Mr. Nielson's past history of possessing firearms and the potential for violence. Before the district court, Nielson sought to suppress the evidence seized pursuant to the search, arguing that executing the search at a.

At the suppression hearing, Detective Coffman testified that officers were concerned that Nielson and Vigil might attempt to arm themselves if police knocked and announced. Officers determined that the garage where the Crime Stoppers tip said an automatic weapon and marijuana were located was connected to the house, but they did not know if there was an interior passageway between the garage and the house. Regarding the search more than four years prior, detectives testified that placing a gun on a laundry basket was unusual, and speculated that Nielson had handled the gun shortly before police entered, though Nielson did not resist and did not threaten violence.

Moreover, police noted that small amounts of marijuana for personal use are easily destroyed by flushing. Police thus feared both violence and destruction of evidence. After hearing this testimony, the district court concluded that it was clear that the officers were obligated to knock and announce before entering Nielson's home. The district court found that the facts presented to support reasonable suspicion fell far short of providing reasons to believe Nielson would be violent or attempt to destroy evidence when he had exhibited no prior violent behavior and when he had not attempted to destroy evidence during the search.

Finding that Tenth Circuit precedent clearly established that Detective Coffman's information was insufficient to support a no-knock execution to the search warrant, the district court refused to apply the good faith doctrine under United States v. Leon, U. The United States now appeals. On appeal from a motion to suppress, we accept the district court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous.

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United States v. When reviewing factual findings in the totality of the circumstances, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party. Because they are questions of law, we review de novo the reasonableness of a search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as well as the district court's determinations with regard to exigent circumstances. Dahlman, 13 F. We must begin any examination of Fourth Amendment limitations on no-knock entries with two Supreme Court cases.

The first, Wilson v. Arkansas, U. Tracing deep into the English Common law the history of the principle that a person's house is "his castle of defence and asylum," 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries , the Supreme Court concluded that the prohibition against the sovereign's breaking down doors without first knocking and announcing was "woven quickly into the fabric of early American law. United States, U. Not only is it part of our common law heritage, but because the reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment may depend in part on the manner in which the search is executed, the Court reasoned: "[W]e have little doubt that the Framers of the Fourth Amendment thought that the method of an officer's entry into a dwelling was among the factors to be considered in assessing the reasonableness of a search or seizure.

The Court was quick to note, however, that inquiry into the reasonableness of an unannounced entry must be flexible. In the second case, Richards v. Wisconsin, U.

Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants
Massachusetts knock and announce search warrants

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