Arizona No Knock Search Warrant Law
The average Arizonan is unaware of the fact that no-knock search warrants are legal. Sadly, the state can even use no-knock warrants in cases that are not violent. The problem with no-knock search warrants is they put the safety of several parties in jeopardy, which is ironically what they are meant to prevent in the first place. As evidenced by the unjust killing of Breonna Taylor last year in Kentucky, no-knock search warrants have the potential to end tragically.
No-Knock Search Warrants in the State of Arizona
Arizona has statutes on the books that state no-knock warrants, also known as unannounced entry warrants, are legal. There is little-to-no standard for the issuance of a warrant for unannounced entry by a justice of the peace or magistrate judge. The law states all that is necessary for such a warrant is a reasonable showing that an announced entry to execute the warrant would put the safety of a persona in jeopardy or cause the destruction of the items detailed in the warrant.
However, those who are critical of the state’s no-knock search warrants rightfully point out that there is no standard definition for the “reasonable showing” phrase. This is an inherently subjective term that can be interpreted in one of many different ways. There is also the questionable use of the word “shall” within the statute. This word might cause the magistrate judge to believe it is only right to issue the no-knock search warrant. Sadly, the statute does not provide judicial discretion. In the end, there is the potential for the magistrate judge, an individual who is not guaranteed to have a law degree or extensive legal experience, to incorrectly assume the no-knock warrant should be issued.
Damage to the Items
Furthermore, no-knock search warrants are permitted based on speculation that the items in question might be compromised. Therefore, in a case that is not violent, such as one involving drugs, there is the potential for the issuance of a no-knock search warrant if the justice of the peace determines the drugs might be intentionally damaged or otherwise destroyed in the event that the police officers announced their presence. This means the state of Arizona has a law on the books that allows for lives to be put in jeopardy to stop the destruction of evidence pertaining to a non-violent case.
Proceeding After Issuing a No-Knock Search Warrant
Once the no-knock search warrant is issued, it essentially provides the state with the power to walk into a home, business or other private building without forewarning. However, Arizona also has the “stand your ground” law on the books. This law states it is legal for a property owner to use force, even potentially deadly force, without any duty to retreat. As long as the property owner is in a building where he or she may be legally present and is not breaking the law, the stand your ground self-defense law will hold up, meaning there is the potential for a deadly shootout. Such an unfortunate outcome could have been easily avoided if no-knock search warrants were banned.
Use your mind’s eye to envision a scenario in which the police conduct a no-knock search warrant for drugs in a non-violent case. A couple Arizonans are hanging out at their home when the search occurs, spurring them to reach for their guns and defend their property. Law enforcement returns fire, ultimately culminating in death in what was a non-violent case to start with. Though no-knock search warrants certainly have their merit in terms of helping to obtain items involved in such cases, the risk clearly outweighs the potential reward.