When law enforcement officers come knocking on your door, it is common to feel panicked even if you don’t believe you have done anything to break the law. People can make bad decisions when they’re nervous, leaving them vulnerable to mistakes that could have serious consequences in the future.
Don’t let your nerves or a misplaced sense of kindness push you into a dangerous position during an interaction with police where they ask to come into your home. Knowing your rights and how to stick up for them can help you avoid unnecessary legal risks that could stem from letting the police into your home.
Once the police get inside, they can find a reason to keep searching
Even if police officers don’t ask to search your house, when they get into your home, they will be looking for an excuse to search. Typically, law enforcement officers will try to present their interactions as a friendly social encounter or a way for you to assist in the investigation.
Once you invite them inside to talk, they will look for anything that could be an indicator that you have committed a criminal activity or are involved in the crime they currently hope to investigate. If they spot anything that gives them reasonable suspicion, they can continue to search your home without a warrant or even obtain a warrant with the information gathered inside your house.
In other words, it is in your best interest to not allow officers into your home unless they have a warrant, even if they ask to come in and talk.
You can talk outside
Regardless of whether the weather is terrible or there’s a lot of noise from traffic, it is probably in your best interests not to offer officers hospitality in your home. Instead, you should ideally shut the door behind you and have any necessary conversation out in front of your property. That way, officers can’t allege that you were uncooperative, but you don’t open yourself up to any potential issues.
There are situations in which police can enter without permission
Obviously, if officers have a signed, valid search warrant for your address, they will gain access to your home. However, there are other circumstances in which they don’t have a warrant but may be able to come into your house without your permission. If you have a roommate or live with other people, officers may be able to search communal spaces such as the living room with the permission of someone else who lives in the home.
Also, if officers see, smell or hear something that indicates a crime is currently underway, they can use that as a reason for entering a property without permission or a warrant. Anything from screams from your television set to the sound of a toilet flushing could be an indicator of a crime in progress that allows police to search your home. However, if officers enter your property illegally, that could mean that the evidence they gather can’t help build a criminal case against you.