We have spoken in a previous blog post what you are supposed to do when a police officer stops you in order to search your vehicle. However, what are you supposed to do when they arrive at your door? In both scenarios, it’s vital that you understand your rights while not being intimidated by the mere presence of a police officer. By knowing what to do in this situation, you can protect yourself from experiencing an unwarranted home search.
The Need for a Warrant
Speaking of which, let’s talk about warrants for a moment because this is a very timely discussion worth having. It was only this past June that the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before they are able to demand user location information from cell phone companies.
This is just an example of how more and more people are starting to take privacy seriously in today’s digital age, but that sense of security certainly begins at home. By searching a person’s home without proper authorization, this constitutionally violated the homeowner’s rights with unprecedented power.
The Topic of Consent
The major exception to this rule is when a police officer is offered consent to a person’s home. Alongside that, if any illegal items are found to be in plain view, they can be seized as evidence against you, which can also lead to an arrest. So long as you don’t have anything that fits that description, you shouldn’t have to worry about this in the first place.
But let’s go back to that topic of consent. You should make it habit to check to see who exactly is at your door before you open it, whether that means looking through your peephole or out the nearby window.
If you find the police have visited you, you can either decide to take another exit to speak to them, have a chat behind your chain lock, or simply refuse to answer them (if you don’t require their help). The only time this will come back to bite you is if they have a warrant.
Find Out Why the Police Have Visited You
As we just talked about, you may feel intimidated being in the presence of the police. Of course, this could also be an entirely unwelcome situation for a variety of reasons. Be that as it may, you should treat them just like you would any other guest, and simply ask, “How may I help you?”
More often than not, this visit will have little to do with you or is a case you can easily handle, like an inquiry about a crime committed nearby. It could also be a noise complaint where you’re just told to keep it down a little.
Either way, always remember to be respectful and apologize for any inconvenience. If the officer asks to enter your home, remain calm and inform them they cannot enter without a search warrant. Make sure any friends or family members are aware of their right to refuse police entry.
We should note ahead of time that this article isn’t intended as legal advice. If you feel your rights have been violated at any step of the process, be sure to speak with a legal professional who will go over your case on your behalf. It is also recommended that any request to enter your home that doesn’t end up happening should also be referred to a lawyer.