If the Police Come Knocking at Your Door

If the police knock at your door and ask to come into your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have a warrant that has been signed by a judge, or under emergency circumstances, or the officer is in pursuit of a suspect. Ask to see the warrant. If it is an ARREST WARRANT, make sure that you look at the name on the warrant to be sure the police have the right person. If it is a SEARCH WARRANT, make sure it is for your specific address and check to see what is listed on the warrant to be searched for in your home or location. The warrant gives the officer(s) the legal right to temporarily seize the listed property on the warrant.

The police may also search without a warrant whenever they have arrested a person. They may search his or her person and the immediate area where the arrest was made.

The police may also search after consent is given. If you object to their request to search, be sure to make it clear that you do not agree to any kind of search. They may also search when there is an emergency situation (for example, someone screaming for help inside your home) or when they are chasing you or someone else into your home (hot pursuit).

If the police do not have a warrant, you may, but do not have to let them in, UNLESS they demand to come in. Perhaps you can settle this matter at the door, if they do insist on coming in over your objections then:

  • Ask to see identification or a police badge.
  • Let them in only after they demand to come in.
  • If you object, then make sure you tell them that you DO NOT consent to any search.
  • Remember the badge numbers and the names of the officers. Write it all down. The officers usually have business cards, feel free to ask the officer(s) for one.