Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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Lack of courtesy can lose a case

Lack of courtesy can lose a case

I tried a case last week where the police had a search warrant for a house. They knocked on the door at about 6 AM, waited less than 10 seconds, and then used the SWAT team to bang through the door and enter the home. In the home they found women, children, and my client. My client was searched without consent and six bags of marijuana were found upon him. He later on confessed to possessing marijuana.

Things look pretty bad for my client. He was on probation. The police had a warrant signed by a judge. They found the marijuana on him. He confessed that the marijuana was his. It sounds like a certain conviction.

The fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I argued to the judge that the search was unreasonable. Yes the police had a warrant. But under the common law of Maryland, the police are generally required to knock and give a reasonable amount of time before they enter a home. There are of course exceptions to this general rule, but this case did not fit into that exception. The court agreed with the argument, found the search to be unreasonable, consequently all evidence including the marijuana and the confession was suppressed and my client was found not guilty.

Had the police been courteous and waited a reasonable amount of time for someone to answer the door, this would not have happened.
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