The police are not always allowed to enter your home. American citizens are protected from illegal searches and seizures. You have a right to privacy in your own house, and even the government authorities often cannot violate that right.
However, there are three different ways that police officers are allowed to enter your house. Let’s take a look at each one in turn.
They have a warrant
First of all, if the police officers have a warrant that says they are allowed to enter and perform a search, then you have to allow them to do so. Even if you try to deny them entry, they are allowed to enter by force. The warrant gives them this right, as it is based on probable cause that was presented to a judge prior to their arrival at your property.
There is an emergency
Even if they don’t have a warrant, police officers can often cite an emergency situation as a reason for entering the house. A crime in progress is a common example. Say that they are in hot pursuit of someone who ran from a traffic stop, and that person pulls into your driveway and runs into your house. The police officers who are in pursuit are generally able to continue that pursuit and make their arrest, even though there’s no time for them to get a warrant before doing so.
You give them consent
Finally, if officers don’t have a warrant and there is no emergency, they will often simply ask you if they can come inside. They’re attempting to get your consent. Once you have provided it, then they are allowed to enter your home and any evidence that they see in Plain view can cause some serious legal issues. This is why, even if you don’t think you have anything to hide, it may be wise to go outside to talk with the police, rather than giving them consent to come inside.
After an arrest
If the police have come to your home and conducted an arrest, especially if you think they violated your rights in the process, you need to know about your defense options.