In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court has given the green light to police to knock down your door if they smell burning marijuana (or other drugs), knock loudly, announce themselves, and hear the sound of evidence possibly being destroyed.
The New York Times reports:
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said police officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches by kicking down a door after the occupants of an apartment react to hearing that officers are there by seeming to destroy evidence.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the majority had handed the police an important new tool.
“The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant.”
“How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and, on hearing sounds indicative of things moving, forcibly enter and search for evidence of unlawful activity?” she asked.
Regardless of if you are doing anything illegal, if they even think that you are destroying any evidence, they can enter without a warrant. So what do you do if the cops are at your door, and you don’t want them to break down the door? Simply ignore the knock, quietly dispose of anything incriminating, or open the door and decline to let them enter without a warrant.
But you would never do anything illegal, right? 😀