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State v. Anyan - 2004 MT 395, 325 Mont. 245, 104 P.3d 511

Rule:

The government bears the burden of proving that exigent circumstances existed. An unjustified yet sincere belief in exigent circumstances does not justify non-compliance with the knock and announce rule. Unless exigent circumstances exist, the failure of law enforcement officers to knock and announce their presence will render the evidence procured during the ensuing execution of the search warrant inadmissible. 

Facts:

Defendants Tanya Marie Anyan, Jay Cleveland, and Troy Klein were each convicted of drug-related felonies after pleading guilty to the charges pursuant to a plea agreement. Each of them appealed. The issue on appeal was whether law enforcement officers' no-knock entry into defendants' house to execute a search warrant violated defendants' constitutional rights to privacy and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Issue:

Did the officers' no-knock entry into defendants' house to execute a search warrant violate defendants' constitutional rights?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Montana held that the State failed to meet its burden to prove that exigent circumstances obviated the necessity to comply with the knock and announce rule. The factors the officers deemed exigent were known well in advance of applying for the search warrant. The SWAT teams had became involved in the investigation two weeks prior to applying for a search warrant. It was then that the decision was made that there would be a no-knock forcible entry. The court issuing the search warrant was never apprized of that decision, nor were any exigent circumstances laid out to the court when the warrant was applied for. The forced entry and subsequent search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and under Mont. Const. art. II, §§ 10 and 11 because the law enforcement authorities failed to knock and announce their presence before executing the warrant. Because the no-knock entry violated defendants' federal and state constitutional rights, the trial court erred in failing to suppress the evidence resulting from that search.

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