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Are you obligated to open your door for the police?

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Some people live in fear of a knock at the door. Others are happy to open it to whomever may call. Yet what if it is the police? Must you open it? Should you?

The short answer is that it depends. Here are some pointers to help you make the correct decision depending on the specifics of the situation at hand.

Ascertain why they are knocking

There are many reasons that the police might come calling. You don’t need to open the door to find out. You could speak to the officers through the door or just listen without letting them know you are inside. If they have permission to enter, they should say so to give you a chance to open the door before they knock it down.

Check if they have a valid warrant

If officers say they have a warrant, ask them to hold it up to the window or push it under the door so you can check that it is signed and contains the correct details.  If it checks out, then open the door and let them in. If they don’t have a valid warrant, you don’t need to let them in, and it’s better not to, with few exceptions, such as if they are pursuing a suspect they believe has entered your house.

Watch that they don’t trick you into inviting them in

Officers who do not have a warrant may still want to enter, and they can do so if you permit them. Take care that an innocent answer to one of their questions, such as, “Mind if we come in out of the rain a moment?” does not give them the legal permission they need to enter.

If the police arrest you after entering your house, investigating the legality of their entry and any search and seizure they’ve conducted is one of the many defense avenues you can explore. Seeking legal guidance right away can help you to get started.