What is the Law on No-Knock Warrants in Texas?
As the name implies, no-knock warrants in Texas allow police to execute a search on a home or business without knocking or otherwise announcing themselves first. Proponents claim that they allow police to retain the element of surprise and prevent alleged criminals from either disposing of evidence, fleeing the premises, or attacking officers as they enter.
However, despite the potential advantages, no-knock warrants generally get a bad rap and were recently at the center of nationwide protests over the officer-involved death of a woman in Kentucky. Our Denton County criminal defense attorney explains current laws on no-knock warrants in Texas and changes that could be ahead in the future.
Controversy Over No-Knock Warrants
No-knock warrants became the focus of national attention after the shooting death of a young black woman in Kentucky in the spring of 2020. Minutes after midnight on March 15 of that year, Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend were asleep in her home in Louisville when police barged through her door, executing a no-knock warrant that had been issued in relation to a criminal drug case.
Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, thinking that someone was breaking into the residence, fired several shots, one of which struck a police officer in the leg. Police opened fire in return and in the hail of bullets, Taylor was struck multiple times and died at the scene. Officials never did find drugs in the residence or any other evidence to connect her to a crime. In the aftermath, protests over the incident, the use of no-knock warrants, and the role it played in her death rose up across the country.
Sadly, Texas has its own history of tragedy when it comes to no-knock warrants. CBS News reports that six officers were charged for a shooting in 2019 that occurred while they were executing a no-knock warrant as part of a drug raid. Two people were killed in the raid. In 1999, a Tarrant county man was shot and killed when police entered his house with a no-knock warrant.
Proposed Changes in Texas No-Knock Warrant Policy
Currently, Texas law does allow no-knock warrants in cases where the element of surprise could aid in arresting suspects, though there are strict requirements for their issuance. They must be approved by a police chief or other higher up, be signed by a district court judge, and can only be used by SWAT team members in executing raids.
This could end up changing in the near future, though. In November of 2020, State Representative Gene Wu filed a bill with the Texas Legislature proposing to ban the use of no-knock warrants across the state. If approved, it would go into effect in the fall of 2021.
Consult with Our Denton County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges on the basis of a warrant that may have violated your rights or endangered your safety, consult with the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC. right away. We act as a strong legal advocate on your side and help to protect you against a criminal conviction. Serving Frisco, Lewisville, and the surrounding areas, contact our Denton County criminal defense attorney and request an appointment today.