Do I need to answer the door if the police knock and want to come inside? The stern pounding of the police knocking on the front door is enough to make even the most innocent person feel anxious. This article is for you if you ever stay awake at night worrying that the cops might visit your home.
When the police ring the doorbell your first reaction might be to unlock the door. After all, you might think, only a guilty person refuses to let the cops into their home.
However, before you unlock the door, make sure that you know your rights regarding granting the police entry into your house. Here is the low-down on when the police can require you to unlock your door and when it’s safe to tell them to come back when they have a warrant.
When Police Can Come Into Your Home Uninvited
Most of the time, the United States Constitution stops the cops from knocking down your front door. Sure, they can ring your doorbell and ask to come inside. But, in most situations, they will leave if you request that they leave your property.
The police have the right to enter your house if they have a signed search warrant. Law enforcement obtains authorization by taking all of the evidence to a judge. If the judge agrees that there is relevant evidence of a crime in your house, the judge will authorize the warrant.
Again, you must unlock your door if the police show you a signed search warrant for your property. The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to stand aside and stay silent during the search.
There are also times when the police don’t need a search warrant to knock down your door. The police can make you open the door if there is something called an exigent circumstance. According to Cornell Law School, the police can use an exigent circumstance to enter your home without a warrant lawfully.
Examples of when the cops don’t need the court’s permission to come through your front door include:
- Someone is in danger inside the building.
- A shooter is firing from inside the house,
- There is a fire in the house.
- A fleeing suspect enters the house.
- To protect evidence of a crime.
The key to deciding whether the police had a legitimate reason to enter the property is if a reasonable person would agree with the need to force entry into your home. The court will determine if the entrance into your home was lawful if you end up in a criminal case. You can rely on your attorney to challenge the entry as well as any evidence collected at your house.
Lastly, the answer to the question of “do I need to answer the door if the police knock?” depends on the circumstances. They can if they have a valid search warrant or there are exigent circumstances. Your safest bet is to allow them into your house and let your attorney argue about the legality later in court.
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