What is a No Knock Search Warrant in Arizona?
No-knock search warrants are perfectly legal in the state of Arizona. Unfortunately, this type of warrant is sometimes used in non-violent cases. This means there is the potential for the use of a no-knock search warrant to result in a safety risk that it was supposedly meant to prevent in the first place. Below, we provide a look at Arizona’s no-knock search warrant laws.
Arizona’s Laws Pertaining to No-knock Search Warrants
Arizona statutes state no-knock search warrants are warrants for unannounced entry. These two phrases refer to the exact same thing. The magistrate judge’s standard for issuing an unannounced entry warrant is surprisingly low. This law states there must be reasonable showing that an announced entry to serve the warrant will endanger the well-being of any individual or lead to the destruction of items identified in the warrant. This language is fleshed out in A.R.S. Section 13-3915(B).
The Language of the Statute is Concerning
The statute referenced above is flawed in that it is difficult to define exactly what a reasonable showing actually is. The standard for reasonable showing is inherently vague. Furthermore, no-knock warrants are allowed to be used based on speculation that items (as opposed to people) might be destroyed. This means a no-knock warrant can be used in the state of Arizona in a case that is non-violent.
As an example, a no-knock warrant can be used in drug possession cases in Arizona if the magistrate determines the supposed drugs might have been destroyed when the police officers announce they are on-site. This essentially means the letter of Arizona’s law states lives can be put at risk with the overarching aim of preventing the destruction of supposed evidence that allegedly relates to a criminal case in spite of the fact that the case might be non-violent.
The use of the word “shall” within the statute is also problematic. The use of this word has the potential to lead the magistrate judge to believe a no-knock warrant is to be issued. The statute does not afford judicial discretion. Each of the problems detailed above sets the stage for no-known warrants to be quite pervasive in the state of Arizona.
No-knock Warrants Have Dangerous Implications
Arizona’s no-knock warrants are also problematic in that they can lead to outcomes that are worse than the supposed crime was in the first place. These unannounced entry warrants provide police with the power to break into private property without even whispering a word to let the property residents know police are present. Such a situation has the potential to lead to a shootout between police officers and the residents of the property.
Keep in mind, Arizona has the self-defense law of “stand your ground” on the books. This law permits people to use force, even if it is deadly force, while standing their ground. In short, the stand your ground law in combination with the no-knock warrant law can lead to disastrous outcomes.
Making matters worse is a no-knock search warrant that occurs in a case that is non-violent can lead to bloodshed and even the loss of life. Though it appears Arizona lawmakers will not change either of these laws in the foreseeable future, there is a chance that the state’s no-knock search warrant law will be challenged by those on the left side of the political aisle in the months and years ahead. Keep in mind, the law is dynamic, meaning it has the potential to change as time progresses rather than remaining static.