Typically, police officers have to announce themselves before they enter your home. Most of them seem to have perfected the terrifying cop knock. This loud pounding is often the first warning people have that police are outside and want to speak with them.
Officers will frequently try to negotiate their way into someone’s house as part of their investigation. What should you do to protect yourself when police officers show up at your home?
Know your rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches
One of the most important rights for those facing suspicion of criminal activity is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of their property. You have the right to expect privacy in your home, which means the police officers can’t let themselves in without reason. Most of the time, officers gain entry to a house either through permission or via a warrant signed by a judge.
However, in emergencies, police officers can enter a home without either the consent of people who live there or a warrant. Justifiable emergencies include probable cause of a crime in progress, like someone screaming for help inside. The police can also continue an active pursuit into a private residence if a criminal fleeing law enforcement officers enters a property.
What if they have a warrant?
If the officer asking to come into your house claims to have a warrant, you should ask to see the document and carefully review it. Some officers will bluff about having a warrant because they expect to be able to secure one quickly later.
If you notice issues with the paperwork, such as the lack of a judge’s signature or an incorrect address, you can potentially deny police officers access to your home, at least until they correct those errors. Those officers should comply with the scope and focus of the warrant during their search.
What if they don’t have a warrant?
As difficult as it can be to stand firm while dealing with the police, unless officers enter your home in an emergency, you can reasonably deny them access.
You might agree to speak with them briefly outside instead of in your home or to come down to the station with your attorney to answer questions later to cooperate while still avoiding mistakes that could lead to criminal charges. Alternatively, you can simply invoke your right to privacy and bid them a good day.
Knowing your rights before the police come loudly knocking on your door will make it easier for you to assert those rights in that moment.