The police can enter your house under certain circumstance; exigency (legal emergency), chasing a fleeing felon/suspect, upon your permission or with a search warrant. The most important part which really matters and you have the most control is when they have no search warrant and it’s not an emergency. I’ll cover that part first and then move on to the others.
1. Do I have to let the police in my house?… if they have no search warrant?
NO! There are exceptions but they are discussed in number 3 below. If there is no emergency and you did not call the police, you don’t have to allow them inside your house.
In fact, you should never open your door for the police if you didn’t call them, you don’t need their help, nor do they have a search warrant. Know your rights!
If you do open your door, try to stay several feet inside. The police can arrest you without a search warrant if you are not inside your house or if any part of you is not inside your house. If you have one arm or leg outside your door, they could yank you outside. However, they are not allowed inside your house without your permission.
If they try to step inside, tell them they are not authorized to come inside without a warrant. You can choose to speak through an open door or window but that also invites you to say things which could later be used against you.
The best practice is to not talk to the police unless you have a situation where you need them. Even then, tell them only enough to get assistance but do not volunteer anything more. It’s advisable that you call your attorney ASAP or while the police is present, if at possible
2. What do I do if the police shows me a search warrant?
The Constitution of United States deems our privacy in our homes very sacred and special. I don’t want to get into the long history of it, but there is a reason why there is a saying that, “A home is a man’s (person’s) castle.”
In order for the government or its agents (police, sheriffs, FBI and other law enforcement) to enter your home without an emergency, they must first provide you with a search warrant.
That search warrant has to be VERY specific. It has to EXACTLY spell the name of the person to be sought, the location (address) to be searched, list the items the police is wanting or thinking they’ll find, the area of the house most likely the item may be, and it must have the signature of a judge or magistrate. If any part of this is missing, it’s not a properly executed warrant. If it’s not a properly executed warrant, you don’t have to let the police inside your house. Simply ask them to come back with a proper warrant. They may stick around the house until that happens, but at least they won’t come immediately and without proper authorization.
Once the police enters, try to be very respectful but do not talk. If you are arrested, give your name, date of birth and ask to speak to a lawyer. Say NOTHING else. The next word out of your mouth should be for your attorney only!
3. Are there times when the police could enter my house anyway without any permission?
Yes, there are certain situation where the police could enter your house without a warning, a request, or a warrant. For example, if they have been chasing a dangerous suspect and this person decided to enter your house via an open door or window, the police will enter in order to protect you from such invader.
The police may also enter if there has been an emergency-call placed from within the house or from someone who has the right to possess the house (resident/renter) and asks the police to enter because a child or someone else may be at risk.
Sometimes police can enter when they conduct a “welfare check.” This could be a call from a concerned relative or employer, for example, of someone who has been non-responsive for at least a couple of days. That time can be shorter if the person whose welfare is being checked is one very fragile or too young.
There are many other situations which I have not covered here and the list is not exhaustive. Please use common sense when handling police matters. Do not let your emotions ruin your chances of a good defense.
My posts/blogs are to be taken for academic purposes only and NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Nothing on my blogs should lead you to believe there is an attorney-client relationship, nor that I am giving legal advice.
Please call my office at (714) 321-9999 for a free consultation to discuss your specific matter where I could then give proper legal advice.