The Eroding Exclusionary Rule

How the law concerning search and seizure and no-knock warrants has evolved.



The “castle doctrine” protects residents from unannounced government intrusion.

English Common Law — Semayne’s Case


The U.S. Constitution bans “unreasonable searches.”

The Fourth Amendment


The Supreme Court says evidence from illegal searches must be excluded from trials.

Weeks v. United States


Prior notice is required before police can force entry.

Miller v. United States


Police need not knock if there is risk of danger or destruction of evidence.

Wilson v. Arkansas


Only “reasonable suspicion” of danger or evidence destruction is needed to force entry.

Richards v. Wisconsin


Police can force entry 15 seconds after knocking.

U.S. v. Banks


No suppression of evidence obtained from illegal searches.

Hudson v. Michigan



The quest for that sweet spot dates from the early 17th century and the “castle doctrine” of English common law, which protected residents from unannounced government intrusions. That ethos was enshrined in the United States Constitution in 1791 with the ratification of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that warrants be backed by probable cause.