CAN POLICE ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT ANNOUNCING THEIR PRESENCE?
The Ohio Supreme Court held that police who violate Ohio’s “Knock and Announce” rule may still be able to arrest a defendant if police initiate the arrest with a valid warrant. State v. Bembry, 2017-Ohio-8114.
In Bembry, the police obtained a warrant to search the home of a suspected drug dealer. Through their investigation, the police learned the suspect lived in an apartment with Defendant. When police arrived at the apartment, police officers knocked on the door, and Defendant asked who was at the door. Police officers announced themselves and waited fifteen seconds before knocking the front door down and entering the apartment. Police found drugs in the apartment and arrested Defendant for possession of drugs. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence based on the police did not adhere to Ohio’s “Knock and Announce” rule.
OHIO’S KNOCK AND ANNOUNCE LAW
Ohio Revised Code Section 2935.12 states a police officer may break down an outer or inner door or window of a house if the police officer makes his presence known and states his intention, but he is refused admittance.
Defendant stated the evidence obtained during the search did not meet the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment and the Ohio Constitution and stated suppression is the appropriate response to evidence obtained by police with a search warrant that violates Ohio Revised Code Section 2935.12 the knock-and-announce law.
The Police knocked on the door, and waited only fifteen seconds before entering the house and arresting Defendant. The police did not give sufficient warning or state why they were executing a search warrant at the house.
UNLAWFUL SEARCHES AND SEIZURES
The Court concluded that the Defendant did not provide any arguments that demonstrated Defendant was entitled to have the evidence suppressed because of a knock-and-announce violation.
The Court in Bembry held the knock-and-announce principle is a much older rule than the rule for excluding evidence. Ohio codified the principle in Ohio Revised Code Section 2935.12. The law permits police executing a search warrant to break down an outer door or window to enter after the police give notice of their intention to make an arrest or execute the search, and is refused admittance. The exclusionary rule was designed to protect against unconstitutional warrantless or illegal searches. The purpose of knock-and-announce is to protect the safety, property, and privacy of those on the premises “that can be destroyed by a sudden entrance.” State v. Bembry, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-8114
The Court stated that suppressing evidence found during a warranted search of a home will not heal a physical injury, fix a door, or undo the shock of embarrassment when police enter without notice of their presence and purpose.
The Court concluded that a violation of the “Knock and Announce” rule would not lead to a suppression of evidence. The knock-and-announce rule protects the physical safety of people and property from the sudden entrance and against any shock or embarrassment that may follow. The threat of suppression would not likely deter police from failing to follow the law, because police could still claim they are allowed to bypass the law under certain emergency circumstances.
Written by Anthony Iori, Riddell Law Associate