Police knock at the door and ask to come in, can you say no?
It may happen on a quiet evening, when you are relaxing after a long day. It might happen when you have already fallen asleep. Whenever it happens, having the police knock on your door and ask to talk to you, or to come inside the home, can be startling and stressful. The question is, what are your rights in this situation? Are you allowed to ignore them? Do you have to answer their questions? If you do ignore them, will they kick in your door?
The fact is, you do not have to speak with them. You can even ignore them if you choose to. They cannot enter without a search warrant. It is not a crime to keep the door closed if the police come knocking.
Here is a listing of some of the basic rights you have if the police arrive at your home and either want to enter the home or talk to you.
To Come Into Your Home or Search it, They Will Require a Warrant
This requirement is based on the fourth amendment to the Constitution. It is quite clear that a person does not have to submit to searches and seizures unless the officer has a warrant. This means no entering, and no searching. The key is that for a police officer to get a warrant, it must be considered reasonable. If there is no warrant, and the police still enter or search your home, then that evidence cannot be used against you. However, if the police knock on your door and ask to enter, and you allow them in, then you are considered to have consented to their entry. This means that they can then search your home. The only way the police can enter a home without a warrant is if they sense there is some kind of emergency. This could mean that they have heard someone in distress, smelled fire, or seen something through a window. There is usually no good reason to let the police into your home, even if you do not have anything incriminating on the premises. You are well within your rights to ask them to return with a warrant.
You Have the Right to be Secure In Your Home
Under United States law, your home is your sanctuary. Nobody, not police, not other private citizens, can enter without your permission or without a warrant. If you decide to ignore that knock or refuse them entry, then you are well within your rights. If you are perfectly willing to talk to the police, but would rather they not enter your home, then you can go outside to speak with them. In this case, make sure to keep your door closed after you exit. If the police spot something illegal inside your home, then they can then enter to search and detain evidence.
You Don’t Even Have to Open the Door
Unless there is a warrant or the officer detects there is an emergency, you don’t have to open the door or answer any questions through the door. The fact is, if a police officer is asking to enter, then it is a good indication that they do not have the right documentation to enter and search. If you do not want to completely ignore the officer, you can politely decline their request, and state that you do not consent to a search, and you do not want to answer questions until you have consulted with your attorney.
There Are Circumstances Under Which the Police May Enter
In some cases, the police are fully within their rights to enter and search your home, even without warrant. They can enter if you give them permission, for instance. If they ask, and you allow it, then you should be prepared for any consequences. The other way they can enter is if they have reason to believe there is an emergency situation occurring inside the home. For instance, they may believe that they need to enter to prevent injury or worse to someone inside. Police can enter if there is a hostage situation, for example.
You Do Not Have to Consent to Police
No matter what an officer says to you, you are within your rights to refuse their requests to enter without a search warrant. Some officers may try to deceive you by suggesting that you could be arrested for refusing them, but that is only a way of trying to get your consent. For whatever reason, they have either been unsuccessful or have not taken the time to obtain a search warrant. Even if you are a completely law-abiding citizen, there is no benefit to allowing the police into your home without a search warrant. There may be something in your home that is illegal that you are either unaware is illegal or are unaware is in your home. Your teenager may have a controlled substance in their room, for instance. If you have allowed the police into your home, then it is perfectly legal for them to seize the drugs and arrest your teenager. There is simply no benefit to allowing the police into your home if they do not have a warrant. If you want to speak with them, then step outside or suggest that you will speak to them at the station.
Know Your Right
Knowing your rights is very important in a free society, and it is also important to understand how to exercise those rights. Remember, the police are doing their jobs to protect the citizens, but they also have to follow the law and respect your rights. If you are in a situation where you believe you are being charged with a crime due to an illegal search, then contact an experienced attorney to help.