There’s been a lot of media coverage and controversy in recent years over the use of “no-knock” warrants and the way these warrants are executed by local law enforcement agencies. Some states and localities have made changes to their policies to ban or at least place strict guidelines on what it takes to obtain a no-knock warrant and the procedures for using them.
What about federal law enforcement agencies? Are they allowed to burst into someone’s home without knocking or ringing the doorbell?
The DOJ recently updated its policy
This past September, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced new limits being placed on “no-knock entries” as well as the use of chokeholds by federal law enforcement agents.
In the press release announcing the changes, the DOJ noted that under most circumstances, agents have to “knock and announce” not just who they are but why are seeking to enter someone’s home to serve a warrant.
Although “unannounced entries” are permitted under federal law, the DOJ’s policy is now to limit these to situations in which “announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.” When agents request a no-knock warrant, it must be approved by someone higher up in their agency as well as a federal prosecutor. They need to show that an unannounced entry is necessary to ensure their and/or others’ safety.
In announcing the new policies, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco noted, “It is essential that law enforcement across the Department of Justice adhere to a single set of standards when it comes to ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ entries.”
If you are suspected or accused of committing a federal crime, the last thing you need is agents bursting into your home with weapons. That could result in disaster. One of the best ways to avoid that may be to cooperate with authorities but only with legal guidance to help ensure that your rights are protected. If you’ve been served with a warrant, regardless of how it was executed, don’t try to deal with it on your own. The stakes are too high.