Recently, we learned that the FBI conducted an early-morning “no knock” raid on the former campaign chairman of President Trump, Paul Manafort. The FBI went to Manafort’s house and forcibly entered it without notice. This was done as part of the Special Counsel’s investigation of the president’s alleged ties to Russia.
So what does it mean when law enforcement executes this type of search warrant?
What is a No Knock Warrant?
A no-knock warrant is a type of warrant that does not require police to announce their presence before forcibly entering the location of a search.
Historically, the common law has required police to knock and announce their presence. This goes back to the 1600’s in England.
But in rare situations, judges will allow a no-knock entry. The main requirement for a no-knock warrant is that a judge must believe the target or subject of the search might try to flee or destroy evidence, or pose a danger to police if they knocked and announced.
A no knock raid means that the individual in question – in this case, Trump’s former campaign manager – is almost surely a target or subject of a federal criminal investigation.
Target v. Subject: What’s the Difference?
A target means the government has substantial evidence linking a person to commission of a crime. A subject means someone who is under investigation and who could be upgraded to a target.
Confusing? It certainly is.
As a practical matter, these terms are meaningless – and a subject can become a target at the drop of a hat.
Controversies Over No-Knock Warrants
No-knock warrants are controversial because many states do not allow them and some consider them unconstitutional.
Furthermore, no-knock raids are dangerous to everyone involved. A person at the scene of the search, such as a homeowner, may have no idea who is breaking into his house. He might use deadly force to defend himself and his house, which could lead to civilians and law enforcement officers being seriously injured or killed.
If you suspect you are a target or subject of a criminal investigation in Houston, or if police have searched you, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney right away. Contact us today.
When it comes to federal and state criminal charges, it’s crucial that you consult with an attorney right away. The Neal Davis Law Firm has successfully handled criminal investigations for almost two decades, from recently having charges declined in a federal child pornography investigation to having a family violence case dismissed.