Understandably, you'll probably be pretty nervous if the police decide to show up at your home. Regardless of why they want to speak with you, don't forget that you have rights. Our criminal defense attorneys reveal what steps you can take if you find yourself in this stressful situation.
Know your rights
Few things are more unsettling than having a police officer at your door asking to come inside your home. The first thing to know is that the Supreme Court has ruled police cannot conduct a search without a warrant. It does not matter if the police say they have probable cause to believe there is illegal activity occurring inside your home. Under the Fourth Amendment, they still need a warrant signed by a judge if they want to enter and search your home.
If the police do not have a warrant, you can:
- Greet them outside after exiting through another door if you think they might try to force their way into your home.
- Speak with officers with the door ajar and secured by a chain lock.
- Decline to answer the door at all.
Whatever the circumstances, it is smart to treat police like any other unscheduled visitor to avoid an unnecessary confrontation or misunderstanding. Politely ask how you can help them.
The odds are that the police are not interested in you or your home. They may be investigating a crime in the neighborhood. They may be looking for a lost child.
On the other hand, the police might think you are suspected of a crime and ask to enter your home. You should respond with a simple statement like: “Officer, I cannot let you inside without a search warrant.” Otherwise, remain silent and answer no questions.
Be very careful what you say
An exception to the search warrant requirement occurs if you give police your consent to enter. If you tell police it is OK to come inside, that means any illegal items that are out in the open are potential evidence – even if they do not belong to you – and you could be subject to arrest.
If a friend has left illegal drugs in plain view, for example, you are the one who is going to be handcuffed and taken to the police station to answer questions.
This is why it is important that your friends, relatives, and roommates know about the legal requirements for police to enter your home. If someone else answers the door when the police knock, that person needs to know they can refuse entry if the police don't have a search warrant.
If the police violate your rights, we can help you fight back.
If you think you have been the victim of an illegal entry and search by police, you are facing numerous obstacles. It can come down to your word against theirs whether you consented to the police entering your home or refused entry.
If police seized evidence of illegal activity, it can look like you are trying to cover up your involvement in a crime. The police will testify against you. The prosecutor will ask tough questions. A judge and jury may believe them instead of you, putting your future and your freedom at risk.
Without the help of a criminal defense lawyer, it can be exceptionally tough to overcome these obstacles. A simple misstep on your part could seal your fate and end in a conviction.
At Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., we've been helping people just like you in Clay County and Northeast Florida since 1987. Attorney Mark Sieron is a former prosecutor. He knows how they think and how to stand up to them in court. He and his team can vigorously defend your rights. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.