The controversy around “no-knock” warrants has heated up once again after the killing of a young man in Minneapolis by police who were executing such a warrant. It was less than two years ago that the killing of Breonna Taylor brought nationwide protests.
Her death also brought changes in the law by a number of states and localities to either prohibit or better control the use of these warrants for the safety of innocent people as well as law enforcement officers.
The DOJ announced policy changes last fall
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has also taken notice of the dangers of no-knock warrants and implemented changes of its own that govern federal law enforcement agents. Last September, the DOJ announced revisions to its rules on “no-knock entries.”
In a press release following a review of federal law enforcement policies by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the DOJ addressed no-knock warrants as well as the use of chokeholds (or “carotid restraints”) – another dangerous and controversial law enforcement technique.
The press release explained that while “unannounced entries” by federal agents will remain legal, it’s amending its policy to authorize them only when “announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.” Otherwise, agents are required to “knock and announce” their identity and reason for seeking entry.
The new policy also requires an additional level of approval for a no-knock warrant. A federal prosecutor as well as someone higher up in the agency involved in the case must authorize and only if the conditions noted above can be shown.
Having an attorney can help protect you
With so many people having legally obtained firearms for protection in their own home, we’ve seen the scenario play out too many times where someone shot at officers bursting into their home because they feared for their safety resulting in fatalities as officers returned gunfire.
If you are under federal investigation or have already been arrested, you benefit by having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side from the very beginning who can help you deal with law enforcement while protecting your rights. This can prevent the need for them to execute a warrant using such drastic measures.