You are at home, starting to relax, when you hear a knock on your door. At first, you may not worry, but when you see a police officer on the other side of the door, your heart skips a beat.
Moments like these are when you try to sort out facts from fiction about when police can enter and search your home. You may start to wonder how you should handle the situation and when you need to let an officer start searching.
Here’s what you should know about when law enforcement can search your home.
You do not need to consent to a warrantless search
Police may come to your door hoping that you will invite them in, allowing them access to information that is in plain sight. They may also ask if they can come in and talk, not mentioning that they might want to look around.
When the police come to your home, you can ask them if they have a warrant and to slide it under the door if they do. If the officer does not have a warrant, you still have the right to remain silent or to talk to officers outside so you can close the door.
The type of warrant matters
Another way an officer could mislead you is to state simply that they have a warrant. However, different warrants give them access to certain things, such as:
- ICE warrant. This type of warrant allows an officer to remove someone based on their immigration status but does not allow the officer to enter the home.
- Arrest warrant. The officer can enter the home, but only if they believe the individual listed on the warrant is inside.
- Search warrant. A search warrant is not limitless. This type of warrant allows police to enter the home and search specific areas for specific items listed on the warrant.
Keep in mind that if you allow an officer to come into your home and search your property without a warrant, anything they find could still be admissible since you gave your consent.
Your right to remain silent and insist on a warrant before law enforcement searches your home is critical. If police confront you, you should talk to a skilled criminal defense attorney about your situation.