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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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When is Law Enforcement Allowed to Knock Down your Door?

Knowing when your door can and cannot be knocked down by a police officer is something you should know about, especially if this is a scenario that has happened to you, because it may help your case if the police officers that barged into your home did so illegally. Law enforcement knocking down one’s door is relatively uncommon except for in circumstances where there is violence or they are following a lead having to do with a larger crime, but there are still laws that the officers still need to follow even in such cases. There are times that they simply cannot knock down your door at all, while there are actually other times when they have the right to knock down your door with or without announcing their presence. Knowing the difference can be crucial for your case.

After Knocking – After the police have knocked on your door to announce their presence, they are allowed to knock down your door so long as they have a warrant and have waited a reasonable amount of time for you to answer. This may only be 15-20 seconds, but as long as they have a permit, this is normally an acceptable amount of time. On the other hand, if the officers do not have a warrant, and there is no suspicion of domestic violence, then the officers most likely do not have the right to knock down your door. Even if they do though, it is best to stay calm and to contact your attorney right away so that they can investigate the circumstances and protect your rights.

Exigency – One exception to the knock-and-announce rule is exigency, Exigent circumstances describe an emergency situation. Normally, if the police officers have a permit stating the house may have drugs, and they knock only to hear a toilet flushing, they do not need to wait a reasonable amount of time to enter, as evidence may be getting thrown away. Also, if there is a domestic dispute, and someone’s life is in danger, they may not need to wait to knock down the door.

Permission – The second type of exception to the knock-and-announce rule is written permission granted by a judge. The courts have excused the knock-and-announce rule in drug raids where the officers know the suspect may have large dogs, a security system or have a history of violence. If the courts think it would be dangerous for an officer to announce their presence, they will grant them advance permission for a forced entry, allowing them to break down your door and enter your home to conduct a search or an arrest.

The most important thing to do in a situation where the police have forcefully entered your home is to stay calm and to ask for a copy of warrants to send to an experienced attorney to review for you. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, you should contact John Tumelty’s law offices today. At John Tumetly Law, Mr. Tumelty is a sole practitioner and personally handles every case that comes into his office. He is with his clients from the initial interview and by their side for every court appearance until the case is successfully resolved. To discuss your case with a certified criminal trial attorney, contact John Tumelty today for a free initial consultation at 609-390-4600.


The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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