search warrant

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search warrant

My alarm went off at my home the police searched the house with me. The officer seen that we had hunting rifles. He went back to the station and ran everyones name who lived in the house and seen my boyfriend had a domestic in 2004. They came back that evening with a warrant and enter my home without serving the warrant. My 11 year old daughter answered the door and police came in all entries of the house before she answered the front door. they started to search the house while my boyfrien was still in the bathroom. No one was ever served before they came in.is this legal in west virginia

Asked on May 13, 2009 under Criminal Law, West Virginia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that the police are required to “knock and announce” when serving a search warrant, as in: [knock, knock] “Ma’am, this is the police. We have a search warrant for these premises.” If you then refuse to let the officers in, they have the right to force the door open.
 
The police are allowed to skip the knock and announce part when they reasonably believe that officers would be endangered or evidence destroyed, should the occupants have any warning.  Even when they do knock and announce, they may only wait a few seconds before bursting in.
In your case, guns were involved so they can argue that they reasonably believed that they would be endangered in light of the fact that one of the occupants had previously been arrested for domestic violence.
The question then becomes did they have a valid warrant in the first place?  And here it looks a though they did.  You consented to have the police in your home.  The guns were in plain sight.  When they ran a background check on the occupants, something they can legally do, a domestic violence conviction turned up on your boyfriend. In West Virgina someone with a DV conviction has greatly restricted rights to own firearms.  If they are in violation, as your boyfriend seems to be in this case,  than the police had probable cause to obtain a warrant.
Since I don't know all of the facts, to be sure of your rights, you may want to go over all this with a criminal attorney in your area.

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