If a police officer knocks on the door and asks to come inside, you may have a lot of questions. First and foremost, you want to know why they’re at your house and why they’re asking your permission to enter in the first place. You may not even be opposed to the idea; you just want to know what’s going on.
But the reasons that the police officer gives you may not be fully accurate. They may say that they just want to take a look around or that they just want to talk to you for a minute. But they’re actually looking for your consent.
Why do they need consent?
Police will ask to come inside because getting consent from a homeowner is one of the few legal ways that they can enter a private residence. Doing so without consent could be illegal. This means the evidence they found wouldn’t be able to be used in court due to the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine. But, if they get your consent first, then they can legally gather evidence that they see in the home.
If the police had a warrant, they might still ask for your consent first, but they wouldn’t technically need it. They can enter your home with a warrant, whether or not they get your permission. There are also situations in which they can enter homes during an emergency, such as to stop a crime that is in progress. But if they’re asking you if they can come inside, it probably means that they already know that they don’t have one of these other reasons.
It’s very important for the police to treat you properly and legally when entering your home, gathering evidence or even making an arrest. Be sure you are well aware of your legal rights.