There are some misconceptions about when police can enter a person’s home. Some people believe that they have a right to privacy in their home and they never have to let the police inside. Others believe that the police are in authority and that they have to do as they’re told if the police ask to come into their house.
The reality is that neither of these positions is fully accurate. People do have an expectation of privacy, but there are also ways that the police can enter the home legally. Here are three of the most common examples.
1. They have a search warrant
To begin with, police officers who want to conduct a search can go to a judge and get a warrant. The warrant should note where on the property the officers are allowed to go and what type of evidence they are seeking. If they have it, they can execute that warrant within these limitations.
2. It is an emergency
In some emergencies, the police may not have time to get an actual warrant to go into the house. This could include if they’re chasing a suspect, if there’s a danger to the public or if evidence inside of the house is actively being destroyed. Police can sometimes use these emergencies as excuses to enter.
3. They get consent
Finally, the police will often just ask a homeowner for their consent to come in and look around or have a conversation. A homeowner can decide if they want to provide this consent or not, and the police have to respect it – unless they have a warrant, which can override a lack of consent.
For those facing criminal charges, the manner in which the police searched for evidence or entered a private residence can have a big impact on the case. They need to be sure that they understand their legal defense options and the steps to take at this time.