One of the worst things you can ever hear is an aggressive cop knock at your front door. Even those who have never knowingly violated the law will likely experience intense fear when they know police want to come into their home.
If you know that local law enforcement wants to investigate you and search your home, it is typically a smart move to learn more about when it is reasonable and legal for them to enter and search your property.
Many times, police gain entrance by asking for it
Police can’t just force themselves into your home unless they believe that a crime is underway or they have a valid search warrant. However, they can manipulate you and trick you into granting them entry into your home.
Police will often convince people that they just need to have a brief discussion or ask a few questions and will then ask if they can come inside to sit down. Most people, not wanting to be rude, will let the police in. Then when police hear you say something that implicates you or witness something possibly illegal in your home, they can start searching and have no obligation to leave, even if you ask them to. It is usually in your best interests not to let the police into your home voluntarily.
Police can enter with a warrant or if a crime may be in progress
For most searches of a home, police will need to secure a warrant signed by a judge that describes the scope of the search and what parts of your property are subject to search. Asking to review a warrant can often help, as officers may have filled it out improperly. Mistakes with the address or a missing signature can be all it takes to invalidate a warrant and give you time to prepare for police to enter your home.
Without a warrant or permission, the only circumstances in which police can enter your home involve a crime in progress. Hearing sounds that indicate a crime currently happening, smelling something like cannabis or methamphetamine through the door, or even pursuing someone from the scene of a crime onto your property could all give police valid reason to search your property without consent or a warrant.
The better you know your rights when dealing with police at your front door, the easier it will be for you to stand up for yourself and avoid getting into a tricky situation.