THIS IS THE THIRD IN A 3-PART SERIES, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
There are a few things more unsettling than having the police knock at your door. Even if you have done nothing wrong, your heart might skip a beat, and depending on the circumstances, the way things play out can go one of many ways. Everyone one in the United States has rights when the police knock at their door. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” Unfortunately, few people know that the first few minutes of the interaction is where most people unwittingly throw their Constitutional protections away. Here at Curtis Legal Services, we have the following suggestions to follow if you are confronted by the police at your door.
Our hard and fast rule is this: Unless you must, do not let the police inside. In most cases, you do not have to invite them inside your home. The best option is to talk to them through the door or step outside and close the door. Ask them to show you identification if they have not already. This protects you and anyone else inside your home from unwanted interactions with the police.
The only way the police are allowed inside your home without permission is with a warrant signed by judicial officer. It must list your address as the place of search or your name as the subject of the arrest warrant. If the officers state they have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door or hold it up so you can clearly see your name or address listed on the warrant. Once they are inside your home, they can only search the specific areas listed and for the specific items listed.
If you are subject to a warrant, you still have the right to remain silent. Curtis Legal Services believes this is one of the most important steps you can take in the search process. Do not answer any questions or speak to the officers as they search your home. We recommend that you remain calm and silent. You should observe what they do, where they go and what items they remove from your home.
There are times when the police do not follow the rules and enter without consent. If this happens to you, simply state, “With all due respect, officer, I do not consent to your entering of my house.” Try and say it loud enough for witnesses to hear and do not become confrontational or belligerent. Entering a house without permission or a warrant is a violation of your rights. Despite this, do not forcefully block them and become physical. The best recommendation is to remember every detail you can about the officers including their badge numbers, patrol car numbers and what agency they are from. If there are any witnesses, try and get their contact information. In addition to the details, you should file a complaint.
Whether the police are at your door just to talk or if they have a warrant, you have rights. If you have been subjected to a police search and feel your rights have been violated, we at Curtis Legal Services are here to help. We have over 30 years of experience in representing victims of illegal search and seizure. Give us a call today for a FREE consultation. We are here to help you fight for what is right!