Police Can Now Knock On Your Door, Listen for Sounds Suggesting Evidence Is Being Destroyed (Whatever That Means), and Then Break In—No Warrant Necessary

May 17th, 2011

Game over.

Via: Los Angeles Times:

The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision in a Kentucky case, says police officers who loudly knock on a door in search of illegal drugs and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant.

The Supreme Court on Monday gave police more leeway to break into residences in search of illegal drugs.

The justices in an 8-1 decision said officers who loudly knock on a door and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant.

Residents who “attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame” when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

In a lone dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling in a Kentucky case will give police an easy way to ignore the 4th Amendment. “Police officers may not knock, listen and then break the door down,” she said, without violating the 4th Amendment.

4 Responses to “Police Can Now Knock On Your Door, Listen for Sounds Suggesting Evidence Is Being Destroyed (Whatever That Means), and Then Break In—No Warrant Necessary”

  1. mangrove Says:

    “Game over.” Yeah, this does seem larger than your average OMG WTF story. Final nail in the coffin? Or, perhaps just another in a series of “final nails” that takes us further down the road to full-fledged fascism. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as they say.

  2. mangrove Says:

    And another thing… What did we learn from this? Are we planning on changing our behavior? Will we now be more cautious and keep a lower profile to avoid trouble with the new gestapo, or are we one of those who says “but that wouldn’t happen here” — you know, the Good Germans who are naive enough to think that somehow their number won’t be up too?

  3. ENERGYMAN Says:

    Awesome!
    You’re in the bathroom, shower,
    or bed.
    Better not dare yell “one second!”
    Better not flush your “evidence”.
    Better not take the time to get dressed.
    What exactly are the sounds that people
    make when destroying evidence?
    A complete frontal assault, nothing less.

  4. JWSmythe Says:

    I believe this has been in place for years, under “probable cause”.

    Pretty much an officer who believes it is in the interest of public safety, or a crime is actively being committed, can do pretty much anything they want.

    Lets consider this scenario. An officer is outside a house, and believes he heard a gunshot, a cry for help, smells smoke, or some other discernible reason to not be able to wait for a warrant, it is in the interest of public safety that he or she enters immediately. That’s all fine and good (and perfectly legal), when it *is* used for public safety. My house is on fire, and I’m trapped inside, I’d prefer the first person on the scene bust down the door and drag me out.

    Now, if the same officer uses the same probable cause, but for other reasons, which they can and do, it shouldn’t be legal. All this decision has done is reinforce the permission for no-knock warrants, and warrant-less entry.

    All it’s really done is saved one line on the report. Instead of saying “Arrived to [whatever]. Heard a cry for help. Upon believing someone was at risk, we forced immediate entry through front door”, it now becomes “Arrived to [whatever]. Forced entry on suspicion of drug disposal…” Think of the ink it’ll save on the reports.

    Of course, if an officer has too many reports where there was suspicious probable cause, it will raise red flags and there will be an investigation. Now, no red flags, it’s perfectly legal. Of course anyone selling drugs is going to try to get rid of them ASAP if the police knock on the door, even just to say “hi”. (when’s the last time you had a cop show up just to say “hi”?)

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