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knock-and-announce rule

The knock-and-announce rule requires police officers serving an arrest warrant or a search warrant to knock on the door of a private residence and announce the reason for their presence, rather than forcing their way in. This rule generally requires police officers to wait a reasonable amount of time for the persons inside the residence to respond to the knock at the door and allow the police officers inside.

If the person(s) inside the residence do not respond and allow the police inside within a reasonable amount of time, the police may force themselves inside—by breaking down the door or its latch or lock mechanism, for example.

No-Knock Situations

The United States Supreme Court has held that a police officer is not required to knock-and-announce if doing so would be unreasonable under the circumstances—if, for example, announcing their presence would be dangerous, futile, or result in the destruction of evidence.

No Exclusionary Rule

The Supreme Court has held that a violation of the knock-and-announce rule by the police does not justify excluding evidence the police may find in searching the home, for example.

Knock-and-Announce Rules in State and Federal Statutes

Although the knock-and-announce rule originated in the common law (also known as court opinions, judicial decisions, or case law) the federal government (18 U.S.C. §3109) and many states (in state statutes) have defined the rule in their statutes. This process of writing the law in a code or statute enacted by the state legislature or the United States Congress is known as codifying the law, because it is made a part of the code or statutes.

A state’s knock-and-announce rule is often located in its statutes governing criminal law and criminal procedure.

In Texas, the knock-and-announce rule is a legal requirement for law enforcement officers when executing an arrest or search warrant at a private residence. Officers must knock on the door and announce their presence and purpose before entering, allowing a reasonable amount of time for occupants to respond. However, there are exceptions to this rule, known as no-knock situations, where it would be dangerous, futile, or could lead to the destruction of evidence if they were to announce themselves. The rule is codified in both federal law (18 U.S.C. §3109) and Texas state statutes, which can be found within the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Despite this requirement, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that evidence obtained in violation of the knock-and-announce rule is not automatically excluded from court proceedings. This means that even if officers fail to follow this rule, the evidence they collect may still be admissible in court.

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