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3 times a police officer can lawfully enter your home

Posted by Bulldog Law | Apr 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” But the mere existence of this protection does not mean that law enforcement officers might not try to violate it.

For example, they may turn up at your door and want to come in and “take a look around.” What they are really saying is they want to come in and search your premises and take away anything they find that could count as evidence against you. When does the law consider this kind of effort reasonable?

When you give them permission

If you allow police officers into your home, they have every right to enter. Be careful, as some officers know how to ask for permission in a roundabout way that can catch people off guard.

When they have a valid warrant

If officers approach your home and say they have a warrant, you should ask for proof before opening up. You can keep the door closed and ask them to push the document under or hold it up to the window so you can read it. You are looking for a judge's signature and complete and correct details.

When there are “exigent circumstances”

Courts usually interpret “exigent circumstances” as being a factor where immediate entry by officers is crucial to either:

  • Prevent the destruction of evidence
  • Save someone from harm
  • Continue chasing someone who committed a serious offense

The police might not always be right about these things. Maybe no one is destroying evidence or about to harm someone. Perhaps the person they are chasing is the wrong person or only did something minor like steal a low value amount of merchandise from a store.

In all cases, if the police enter your home and subsequently arrest you, getting help to examine whether they had the right to enter could be crucial to the success of your defense.

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