No Need to Knock, We’re Coming In

By Max Resnik

May 19, 2011 Updated May 19, 2011 at 5:42 PM EST

Indianapolis, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – The idea that an officer needs to provide a warrant before searching your home, car or even your person is well known by most Americans. The court case Barnes vs. Indiana changed that. Police no longer need that warrant.

About the case:

Barnes was charged with battery against an officer after he shoved the officer. In this case, the officer was responding to a possible case of domestic violence involving Barnes. The officer, who didn’t possess a search warrant, entered Barnes’ home illegally. It was there that Barnes committed battery.

At the Indiana Supreme Court, it was ruled that because the public has the ability to sue the government or governmental bodies, there no longer is a need for police present search warrants or seek a judge’s signature for a warrant. In the eyes of the court, the ability of the public to sue serves as the remedy for the lack of a search warrant. This ruling was also made, in part, to assure police that possible suspects are not given the opportunity to destroy evidence.

The U.S. Supreme Court made a similar ruling this week in the case King vs. Kentucky in which similar circumstances were presented. Like the Indiana Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court came to similar findings in an 8-1 decision.

Today, Indiana’s NewsCenter met with local criminal defense attorney Michelle Kraus. She says this ruling is crushing Hoosiers’ fourth amendment rights.

She says, “And even if they're there illegally and you punch a police officer in the nose, he's not going get in trouble for breaking into your house. You're going to get in trouble for punching the officer in the nose, even though he's illegally there. I'm troubled by that.”

Kraus says the idea of an individual’s home serving as his or her absolute and ultimate place of privacy has been trampled. She says 300 years of case precedence and rights guaranteed in the Magna Carta have been set aside and forgotten.

For Example:

Say an officer is at your home because he says he can smell marijuana.
You say that you are not smoking marijuana, nor can you smell it.
The officer, without presenting or possessing a search warrant, enters anyway. He finds the marijuana and arrests you.
According to Kraus, instead of the burden of proof resting on the state to prove your guilt, the burden of proof now rests with you, the accused, to disprove that the officer smelled pot.
It is your word against the officer's word, and you must prove your innocence.




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