Is Knock-And-Announce An Established Principle Where the Exclusionary Rule Is Inapplicable ?
In Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 126 S. Ct. 2159, 165 L. Ed. 2d 56 (2006), "when the police arrived to execute the warrant, they announced their presence, but waited only a short time--perhaps 'three to five seconds,'. . .--before turning the knob of the unlocked front door and entering Hudson's home." Id.
The defendant moved to suppress all of the inculpatory evidence against him, arguing that the police officers' premature entry violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Id.
After unsuccessfully attempting to obtain relief in the state courts, Hudson petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. Id. at 588-89.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari and denied relief, concluding that the exclusionary rule is not an appropriate remedy for a violation of the Fourth Amendment knock-and-announce requirement.
In reaching this conclusion in Hudson, the Supreme Court noted that the knock-and-announce requirement is a well-established principle with deep roots in our English common law heritage. Id. at 589.
The Supreme Court also explained that it concluded in Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 115 S. Ct. 1914, 131 L. Ed. 2d 976 (1995), that the knock-and-announce rule is also a command of the Fourth Amendment--in essence, the common law knock-and-announce rule is part of the reasonableness inquiry under the Fourth Amendment. Hudson, 547 U.S. at 589; see also Wilson, 514 U.S. at 930.
The Supreme Court highlighted the distinction between the question of whether evidence should be excluded in a particular case and the question of whether law enforcement violated the Fourth Amendment knock-and-announce requirement:
"In Whiteley v. Warden, Wyoming State Penitentiary, 401 U.S. 560, 91 S. Ct. 1031, 28 L. Ed. 2d 306 (1971), the Court treated identification of a Fourth Amendment violation as synonymous with application of the exclusionary rule to evidence secured incident to that violation.
Subsequent case law has rejected this reflexive application of the exclusionary rule."
The court had said as much in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 906, 104 S. Ct. 3405, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677 (1984), a decade earlier, when we explained that "whether the exclusionary sanction is appropriately imposed in a particular case . . . is 'an issue separate from the question whether the Fourth Amendment rights of the party seeking to invoke the rule were violated by police conduct.' "
In other words, exclusion may not be premised on the mere fact that a constitutional violation was a "but-for" cause of obtaining evidence.
Our cases show that but-for causality is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for suppression.
In this case, of course, the constitutional violation of an illegal manner of entry was not a but-for cause of obtaining the evidence.
Whether that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have discovered the gun and drugs inside the house.
But even if the illegal entry here could be characterized as a but-for cause of discovering what was inside, we have "never held that evidence is 'fruit of the poisonous tree' simply because 'it would not have come to light but for the illegal actions of the police.' " Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 815, 104 S. Ct. 3380, 82 L. Ed. 2d 599 (1984). Hudson, 547 U.S. at 591-92.
The Supreme Court also explained the interests protected by the knock-and-announce requirement:
One of those interests is the protection of human life and limb, because an unannounced entry may provoke violence in supposed self-defense by the surprised resident.
Another interest is the protection of property.
Breaking a house (as the old cases typically put it) absent an announcement would penalize someone who did not know of the process, of which, if he had notice, it is to be presumed that he would obey it.
The knock-and-announce rule gives individuals the opportunity to comply with the law and to avoid the destruction of property occasioned by a forcible entry.
And thirdly, the knock-and-announce rule protects those elements of privacy and dignity that can be destroyed by a sudden entrance.
It gives residents the opportunity to prepare themselves for the entry of the police.
The brief interlude between announcement and entry with a warrant may be the opportunity that an individual has to pull on clothes or get out of bed.
In other words, it assures the opportunity to collect oneself before answering the door.
What the knock-and-announce rule has never protected, however, is one's interest in preventing the government from seeing or taking evidence described in a warrant.
Since the interests that were violated in this case have nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable. Id. at 594.