Should You Allow Law Enforcement to Enter Your Home?

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

What would you do if law enforcement knocked on your door and asked to have a look around? Would you even bother opening the door if you looked out the window and saw police officers outside?

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to open the door, but have you considered all the reasons why you shouldn’t? There is no law that requires you to open the door when someone knocks. This applies to a knock from a random sales person or neighbor, as well as to law enforcement. The only time you need to allow law enforcement into your home is if they have a search warrant, so unless you’re presented with a document that legally entitles them to enter your home, you are better off ignoring their knock.

No Search Warrant, No Entry

In order to be granted a search warrant, law enforcement must show you specific cause as to why they believe you might be breaking the law. In some cases, this could be as simple as hearing a humming noise coming from your garage or having security cameras on your property. Law enforcement can claim these things are an indication you are using your home as a grow house for marijuana and a judge will likely grant them access to check things out.

For more information on what’s needed to obtain a search warrant, check out this information from Cornell University Law Schoolhis information from Cornell University Law School.

But let’s assume law enforcement doesn’t have enough to get a search warrant and they come knocking, hoping you’ll grant them access and the opportunity to spot something illegal once they’re inside. Or, in some cases, claim they spotted something illegal. Once inside, officers have numerous tricks they use to sweep through your entire home, giving them access to every nook and cranny, as well as the ability to go to a judge after the fact and request a search warrant to gather even more “evidence” against you.

Is It Ok to Ignore a Knock from Law Enforcement?

So what’s the best thing you can do if law enforcement knocks on your door? You have the option of ignoring it. If there is an emergency and they need to provide you with information, such as a neighborhood evacuation, they’ll be persistent about knocking and yelling into you about the issue. Chances are if there is an emergency, you’ll be able to determine this by turning on the local news or checking the internet for information.

Assuming there is no emergency, and you decide to open the door, it’s highly advised you do not let the officers enter your home. Unless they have a search warrant, there is no reason for them to come into your home. If they claim to be checking on your safety, assure them you are safe (assuming you are) and bid them farewell. Avoid answering questions and tell them if they’d like more information they are welcome to return with a warrant.

Finally, if you believe law enforcement will be returning with a warrant, or you’ve been visited more than once without one, or you suspect you’re being investigated for a crime, you need to speak to an attorney. Contact David Lindsey to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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