You were minding your own business and all of a sudden there was a loud knock at the door. You answer, and it’s the police. They are suggesting that you may have been involved in criminal activity and would like to search your house.
What are your options in such a scenario? Do you have to let them in?
Consent is an option, but not necessarily a good one
The officers may be perfectly friendly and insist that they only want to come in for an informal chat. In reality, if you have been identified as a suspect, then they are going to be looking for evidence. It can be tempting to think that if you have nothing to hide then there is no reason not to let them in, but is it really worth the risk? You are not obliged to give the officers consent to enter your property.
Valid search warrants
If law enforcement has a valid search warrant, then they may be entitled to enter your property without your consent. However, the warrant must be current and accurate. A search warrant for a family member’s property is not valid for your home. If the warrant contains the correct address and officers are seizing goods, then these should be itemized on the document.
In emergency situations, officers may be permitted to enter your home without consent. To do this, they need to have probable cause. Essentially, this means that they have good reason to believe that a criminal offense has occurred or is in progress. For instance, if they hear gunshots from inside when they arrive.
Police officers enforce the law, but they must also abide by it. If you are facing criminal charges, then make sure you seek some legal guidance so that you can protect your rights.