Execution of Warrants and Unreasonable Police Behavior

An arrest warrant or a search warrant does give the police authority to arrest you or search your premises but this doesn’t mean they can act however they please. They have a civic duty to protect you but like many people who hold authority, they sometimes abuse their powers. 

Knowledge about what is reasonable or unreasonable when it comes to police behavior when executing warrants empowers you to defend your rights. 

What is ‘reasonable’ behavior when executing an arrest?

The Fourth Amendment requires police officers executing warrants to behave in a ‘reasonable’ manner. For example, when executing an arrest warrant, they have to tell you immediately that you are under arrest and why. 

They have to inform you of your right to call a lawyer and when the situation is under control, they must let you call one. The only information you have to provide to the police is your name, date of birth and address. 

What is ‘reasonable’ behavior when executing a search warrant?

When conducting a search, the ‘knock-and-announce’ rule requires police officers to announce their presence. They must knock on the door and give the occupant the chance to open it. The police must show the warrant to an occupant upon request.

If permission to enter is denied, they are then allowed to use reasonable force to enter and conduct a search. This rule does not apply in certain instances, such as when police are in pursuit of a suspect or have a reasonable belief that someone inside is being hurt. 

If you are not at home, the police are entitled to use reasonable force to enter your home and search the premises. 

What is ‘unreasonable’ behavior when executing a warrant?

Kicking down your door, threatening to trash your place and searching occupants of the house are examples of unreasonable police behavior when executing a search warrant. 

If they deny your basic dignity, such as access to water and food or to a bathroom, they are violating your civil rights. If you experience ‘unreasonable’ behavior when police execute a warrant, you can file a case against them. 

When Robert Mitchell fled the police after a routine traffic stop, they used a Taser on the 16-year-old, sending 50,000 volts of electricity into him. The police had followed him on foot to an abandoned building and claim they only Tasered him once. The unarmed boy was pronounced dead soon afterwards. The police officers said they acted in this way because Mitchell was resisting arrest. 

Are you allowed to use force if the police are acting illegally? 

You are allowed to protect yourself but only with reasonable force. The problem is that you may be beaten and your version of what happened may be very different from theirs. You may be charged with assaulting a police officer and obstructing justice. Calling police brutality lawyers is essential in such a situation. 

What should you do if you think police are going too far?

Make sure you talk to an experienced attorney who can explain the law to you. Even if you are not charged with a crime but feel officers have violated your rights when executing a search warrant, you can find a personal injury lawyer at USAttorneys.com to help you to file a complaint or a lawsuit. 

The best thing you can do when you think the police are going too far is to get proof of their actions. For instance, bystanders may have videos of the incident on their phones and CCTV cameras may provide evidence. A lawyer will help you to collect evidence, discuss your legal options and represent you if your case goes to court. 

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