It’s important for civilians to remember that police officers cannot always enter their homes. Yes, being a police officer does place them in a position of authority. But that does not mean that you have to simply give them access to your house whenever they want.
In fact, if the police enter your house improperly and gather evidence, you may be able to argue that this evidence should not be used in court. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to know when officers can and cannot enter your home and what that may mean for your case. Below are three ways they can do so lawfully.
Using a warrant
First and foremost, police can go to a judge and get a warrant. They will likely do this if they can show that they have a reason to believe evidence is in the home and they don’t need to enter it in an emergency capacity. If the judge grants them the warrant, they can then execute that warrant as long as they abide by the restrictions set forth within it. For instance, it may tell them what part of your property they can search or what they are looking for.
Getting your consent
If the police do not have a warrant, then they will often ask for your consent. They may try to frame it casually, such as saying that they just want to come in and talk or “have a look around.” What they’re really trying to do is simply get consent to enter your home so that any evidence they find inside will be legally gathered and could be used during a potential case. You do not have to provide your consent if you do not want to do so. It is not illegal to tell the police that they cannot come inside without a warrant and absent an emergency.
Operating in an emergency
Finally, police officers can sometimes use emergency situations to enter someone’s home. For example, they may be able to enter lawfully if they think that someone inside the house is in danger and they need to act quickly. Another example could involve the pursuit of someone who came to your house and ran inside, in which case they could continue that pursuit.
Your defense options
As noted above, the way that the police enter your home can have a big impact on the defense tactics that you use in the event that you are charged with criminal wrongdoing. Be sure you know exactly what legal options you have at your disposal by seeking legal guidance proactively.