After repeated cases where citizens have accused police officers of violating civil rights and using excessive force, the Commonwealth of Virginia decided to establish further protections for its residents. In March 2021, a law went into effect that bans no-knock search warrants.
State residents should understand what this statute entails and how it limits police authority.
How police must attempt to enter a property
Title 19 of the Virginia Code states that law enforcement personnel with a search warrant must be “recognizable and identifiable” as uniformed officers. Police must also provide audible notice of their authority and purpose. The officers must give audible notice in a way that occupants should be able to hear.
After securing the area, police must provide a copy of the warrant to the property owner or the person they will search. If the property owner is absent, police may give the warrant to an adult occupant. If no adult is present, the officers must leave the search warrant and affidavit in a visible location.
When police may attempt to execute a search warrant
Warrants typically authorize officers to perform a search during daytime hours, specifically between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. As long as the officers enter between these hours, they may remain on the property afterward. A judge or magistrate may authorize the officers to execute the warrant at another time due to good cause.
If the police do not follow these statutes during searches, the court may dismiss the evidence they obtain as inadmissible. Citizens should know their rights regarding warrants and can challenge the results of illegal investigations.