There have been many cases in Florida and across the country that looked at whether police who have a search warrant to search one’s home can barge into the residence or must knock and announce themselves first. There have also been cases in Florida that discussed what the proper remedy is if the police violate a requirement to knock and announce themselves prior to entering a residence to execute a search warrant.
When the police have a search warrant for a particular residence, they are permitted to search that residence for the items listed in the search warrant. However, they generally must knock and announce their presence rather than just busting in the door and starting their search. There are exceptions if the police are aware of facts that would indicate that knocking and announcing their presence would create a safety hazard. In those situations, the police can explain those facts to a judge and apply for a search warrant that specifically authorizes them to avoid the knock and announce requirement and go directly into the residence.
However, what happens if the police are required to knock on the door and announce themselves before going into the residence but fail to do so? In Florida, the answer is not yet clear. Normally, when the police perform an improper search, it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment that results in any evidence seized being thrown out. For instance, if the police search someone without consent or a search warrant and only based on a hunch or an anonymous tip that the person is carrying drugs or other evidence, that would be an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The proper remedy would be for the criminal defense lawyer to have the evidence thrown out. A criminal defense attorney would make the same argument if the police failed to knock and announce themselves before executing a search warrant in a person’s home and found illegal drugs, guns or other evidence inside. However, the law in Florida has not been established with certainty whether the remedy is to throw out the evidence found as a result of a knock and announce search warrant violation or if the evidence found is still admissible in court. This may be an issue that the Florida Supreme Court ultimately decides.