Virginia Governor Signs Law Limiting “No-Knock” Warrants

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by | October 28, 2020

The Virginia General Assembly’s recent Special Session intended to address Criminal Justice issues in the Commonwealth. In doing do, legislators looked a variety of approaches, and found some solutions that make genuine progress, or are at a minimum, good faith attempts to grapple with complicated problems. Previously discussed is a bill that increased prosecutorial discretion to dismiss a charge, or come to more creative solutions. One measure, recently signed by Gov. Northam, is HB-5099, which limits so-called “No-Knock” warrants in Virginia.

No-Knock warrants have become common for a few reasons. Among them is the concern, particularly in drug related cases, that by knocking and announcing their presence, police give suspects time to destroy evidence. The failure to knock-and-announce can also increase the risk of the warrants, where citizens are presented with, what to them is, several armed intruders breaking into their home.

The bill is a response to the well known officer involved shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

The bill, in part, requires that “for all authorized search warrants, the law-enforcement officer be recognizable and identifiable as a uniformed law-enforcement officer and that he provide audible notice of his authority and purpose reasonably expected to be heard by occupants of such place to be searched prior to the execution of such search warrant.” Further, absent special circumstances, the bill limits the search warrant execution to daylight hours.

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