When a police officer knocks on the front door unexpectedly, people inside may feel relieved, surprised, frightened, or even angry. They may also be confused as to why the police are there and if they should let them in. Many may be wondering if you are legally required to let police in your house.
Not all United States Citizens understand what their rights are in these situations. The Supreme Court ruled that homes have maximum search protection, so when police have probable cause that something illegal is happening inside, they are required by the Fourth Amendment to procure a signed search warrant. This must be obtained from a judge. If police do not have a search warrant, they cannot enter and search legally.
Although, there are certain situations when police may enter without a warrant. If a person gives consent, police may enter the house. If police believe that there is an emergency, they can enter the home. Emergencies can include suspected domestic violence, destruction of evidence, or if someone is being held hostage or needs emergency aid. There have also been cases where police enter without warrants if they smell marijuana.
When the police do not have a warrant, it is okay to not let them inside. However, officers may try to talk the person into letting them in with statements that can feel intimidating. They could make the individual think they will be facing arrest if they keep the door closed or refuse to let anyone in. Law-abiding citizens that have a desire to help are probably better off keeping the police out unless real help is needed.
What to Do After the Knock
Police searches should never be performed without valid warrants. So, what should I do if a police officer is at my door? It is best to kindly greet the police officer outside, if possible. If the door has a chain lock, the police can be spoken to through the opening of the door. While speaking, it is important to be patient and respectful to the police officer. It is also possible that they may not want to enter the house, they could be canvassing the neighborhood about a missing person or responding to a neighbor’s complaint about a loud party. If they do ask to come in, they can be told that they must have a search warrant to do so.
Haddonfield Criminal Attorneys at Aita Law, LLC Fight Hard to Protect Their Clients
If you need effective legal representation following criminal accusations, contact one of our experienced lawyers today. Our knowledgeable Haddonfield and Cherry Hill criminal attorneys at Aita Law, LLC advocate for the falsely accused and protect the rights of their clients. Contact us online or call us at 856-287-7800 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Haddonfield and Marlton, New Jersey, we also serve clients in Camden County, Cherry Hill, and throughout South Jersey.