When law enforcement officials suspect illegal activity, they engage in various investigative practices to search and examine the circumstances. However, these practices are often intrusive or startling.
Citizens of New Jersey have specific rights when it comes to law enforcement and the search of their property. If officers suppose unlawful activity has occurred within a residence or by someone on the premises, they must follow particular protocol as they move forward with their operation.
In typical circumstances, law enforcement officials must notify residents of their presence when executing a search warrant. Due to certain perceived safety risks, as well as potential obstruction or destruction of important evidence, a judge may grant a no-knock search warrant if officers have reasonable grounds to forcibly enter a residence.
There are three circumstances in which law enforcement can request a no-knock warrant:
- To ensure evidence on the premises is not destroyed before the officers entered
- To preserve officer safety should there be a risk of harm after announcing their presence
- To carry out an arrest or seizure of evidence
In these situations, officers are not required to announce their presence and can force their way into a home without prior notification or warning.
If law enforcement officers approach a home, they must knock on the door and provide an explanation as to why they are there. Officers are not permitted to forcibly enter a home without a search warrant, and cannot enter without announcement or permission unless they possess a no-knock warrant. In those cases, they must also wait a suitable amount of time before entering uninvited.
Violations of knock-and-announce rules are distressing for New Jersey residents. Those who suspect a violation of their rights may have a legal claim against the police.