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The Police Want to Search my Home. Should I let them?

Having the police knocking at your door is intimidating, even if you’ve never broken a law in your life.  Whether you’re being investigated by the police or not, it’s a good idea to think through this situation and be prepared, so that you have a plan should you find police outside your front door. In this blog entry we go over the basics.
No warrant – no entry
Your home is entitled to the highest standard or privacy protection, which means you do not have to let the police in for any reason unless they have a warrant.  It has been ruled in the Supreme Court that even if an officer of the law has probable cause to think that something illegal is taking place in the house, they may not enter until they have a judge sign a search warrant. 
When they can enter
The police can knock on your door and ask you to come in.  If you, or anyone who answers the door, tells them that they can come in, they are permitted to enter.  In addition, if you open the door and they can actually see something illegal taking place, they are likely to enter without permission. Unless you consent, the police cannot enter your home without a warrant unless they are responding to a Domestic Violence call or it is an extreme emergency where people are in immediate danger. Beyond these  instances, however, they cannot step foot in your home.
What you should do
It is perfectly normal to not want the police to come into your home.  Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you are encouraged to exercise your fourth amendment rights to privacy.  With this in mind, it is recommended that you do not permit the police to enter your home without a signed warrant.  If this is the approach you choose to take, you have several options available should the police come knocking at your door:

  • Don’t respond – If you’re not comfortable confronting them directly, you can simply refuse to answer the door.  If they don’t have a warrant, they will leave on their own.
  • Go Out to meet them – You can exit your home from another door and come around to ask them what they need.  In many cases the police are just there responding to a noise complaint or something else.  If that is the case, address their concern and thank them for their time.
  • Speak through the Door or Crack the Door – You can also open the door just a small amount to talk to the police or even just speak through the door to them.  Even if it aggravates the officer, they know it is your right.

Contact an Attorney
If the police say that they will be returning with a warrant, you need to contact an attorney immediately for legal counsel.  Let them know that the police were outside your home and that they said they would return with a warrant.  Your attorney will let you know what your next steps should be. Please contact us immediately if you have any questions on this subject!

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