Inspired by this question: Suppose I'm paranoid (perhaps justifiably) that law enforcemen might conduct a warranted raid of my property. So I setup booby-traps that are designed to either:
A. Destroy any evidence I think they might look for, or, more extremely,
B. Destroy the property and anyone on it in the event that it is raided.
We know from here and here that I owe trespassers some duty of care. Being an (otherwise) law-abiding citizen, I post explicit warnings within the perimeter of my property, which I have secured against trespass by anybody but a very determined attacker. I.e., the only way the police could see the warnings is if they have entered for a raid, at which point the warnings state, "If you go any further into this property you will trigger devices that will destroy the property and kill all persons therein."
Sure enough, the police get a no-knock search warrant, breach the outer perimeter, and stop at the warnings. At this point can I be compelled by a court to grant safe access for law enforcement to carry out the search warrant?
And if, despite the clear warning, the police decide to press on with their search and an officer is injured or killed, can I be held criminally or civilly liable for that casualty?
Notes & clarifications from comments:
- I'm revealing my mens rea in this question, but objectively I have merely secured the property and warned determined trespassers. The police can lawfully search, but do I have a duty to make my premises safe to search? Am I ex ante liable for their injuries, given the suitable warning? Or can they say, "If you don't make it safe to search, you're liable for our injuries?" At which point haven't they compelled me to incriminate myself, meaning that I can disarm the traps but all the premises' contents are then "poisoned" evidence?
- Practically speaking it's not hard to rig thermite to destroy evidence without endangering anyone not in close proximity. But then, destruction of evidence is a crime, and I'd rather not destroy my valuable stash of whatever. Or, again, maybe I don't have anything to hide but on principle I really don't want police in my house. So part of the motivation here is to determine: can one construct a scenario that would flat-out deter the search?
- One analogy that might illuminate this is to consider a hazmat factory: It is secured, it has warnings, and if police barge in and start tossing things without adequate protection they could be injured or killed. So in real life – even just approaching suspected meth labs – the police bring in hazmat specialists. They don't say, "Please render your lab safe for us to search," and I don't think they say, "We got hurt raiding your lab, so that's on you." In this hypothetical there is no specialist they can call because the exact threat is unknown, and designed to be unknowable in advance. In fact, I could just be bluffing and not have any boobytraps.
- Another reference point that occurs to me: when police are confronted with non-trivial explosive devices, whenever possible it seems they prefer to just clear a safety perimeter and destroy the device than to try to approach and disarm it.
- One last point of reference I came across: There is one such example in existence in the U.S.: Fugitive John Joe Gray has kept police from entering his property to arrest him for 16 years, simply because no sheriff has considered it worth the risk.