04 Jun When Can Police Legally Enter Your Home?
We have all seen enough television shows and movies to have a rough idea of when a police officer can legally enter a home. This is not a scenario where someone with a badge can simply walk through a door simply because they feel like it.
Should an individual be identified as a witness or a suspect of a crime, or if that location happens to pertain some relevance to an ongoing case, then police have a few options at their disposal.
That does not give them carte blanche to come in and out as they please, as the owner and residence of the property have their own privacy rights that are upheld under certain conditions in a court of law.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States of America specifies that all citizens of the country have the legal right to their homes and bodies against any searches or seizures that can be classified as unreasonable. That applies to law enforcement just as it does to other citizens.
So what instances allow police to enter the home of a residence? Here we will outline cases where officers are covered and protected in the eyes of the law to undertake this process.
If They Have a Warrant
To be 100% covered by the courts, police can access a search warrant that allows them to enter your home. This will only take place if the law enforcement officers on hand can prove to a judge that they have evidence or probable cause that might lead to a crime or to investigate a previous crime. The warrant must specify the address of the location in order to be valid for police to search a private premises and it is strongly advised that any warrant handed to an owner or resident should be read carefully to ensure that all details are correct.
There are exigent circumstances that can justify entry – a scenario whereby officers believe evidence may be lost or tampered with before a warrant can be issued. This suspicion is a grey area and can lead to an ongoing legal battle.
If They Have Permission
Should a warrant not be in the possession of law enforcement, then police are allowed to enter a premises if they have consent from the owner or resident at the time. This is also known as a “knock and talk” from police who might be performing a mundane discussion with a party who might be able to provide some further information. Should you not wish to have a police officer enter and there is no documentation that allows them entry, then as a citizen you can simply refuse entry.