So What If the Police Knock Down Your Door!

          Florida statute section 933.09--sometimes called Florida's version of the so-called knock-and-announce rule--states that a police officer "may break open any outer door, inner door or window of a house, or any part of a house or anything therein, to execute [a] warrant, if after due notice of the officer's authority and purpose he or she is refused admittance to said house or access to anything therein."  But what if the police do not give you "due notice?"   What if they do not first knock on your door and announce their presence before breaking your door down and entering your home with guns drawn?

          Before the United States Supreme Court's decision in Hudson v. Michigan in 2006, the law had been that if the police entered a home with a warrant but without first knocking and announcing their presence any evidence seized by the police following their illegal entry--evidence such as drugs or guns--would be thrown out of court.  The result in many instances was that the case against the owner of the home had to be dropped by the prosecution.

          But then came Hudson.  In that case, the Court correctly observed that the knock-and-announce rule has historically protected such interests as:

          1.  The physical safety of a home's occupants because an unannounced entry by the police may provoke violence from a surprised resident;

          2.  Property interest because the owner of a home would probably open his front door voluntarily if the police first announced their presence rather than allowing the police to break it down; and

          3.  The privacy and dignity of a home that is offended if the police enter it unexpectedly and forcefully.

          But then the Hudson Court fundamentally changed existing law by ruling that judges are not required to throw out incriminating evidence whenever the police violate the knock-and-announce rule.  That is because the police can be deterred from breaking that rule by other means such as civil-rights lawsuits and the increasing professionalism of police forces which includes a new emphasis on internal police discipline.

          Internal police discipline?  All that one has to do in order to see numerous modern-day examples of police officers who lack internal discipline is go to YouTube and type in the query "police brutality."  Perhaps if the members of our Supreme Court had done just that prior to deciding Hudson, the outcome of that particular case would have been far different.


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