In a recent drug case near Jacksonville, Florida, the police obtained a search warrant to search the defendant’s house for ecstasy pills (MDMA). The search warrant authorized by the judge was a knock and announce search warrant. A knock and announce search warrant is fairly self-explanatory. When the police officers approach a house, they have to knock, announce themselves as police and give the residents sufficient time to come to the door. The police cannot just show up, knock down the door and start searching.
In this case, the police officers showed up to the house late at night, knocked on the door for approximately 20 seconds and broke down the door after no one answered within 20 seconds. They searched the house and found large quantities of ecstasy pills. The defendant, who owned the house, was arrested for trafficking in ecstasy.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence of the ecstasy pills because the police officers violated the provisions of the the search warrant. Because this was a knock and announce search warrant, the police were required to knock and then announce their presence and wait a sufficient period of time for the people to answer the door. The court found that 20 seconds was not a sufficient period of time to wait for the occupants to answer the door for a knock and announce search warrant, especially at night when most people are sleeping. Since the police officers did not comply with the terms of the search warrant, the evidence of the ecstasy pills was thrown out, and the trafficking in ecstasy case was dismissed.