You’ve probably heard the adage, “a man’s home is his castle.” The U.S. Constitution takes this doctrine seriously. And it is on this basis that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, the police are generally required to have a warrant before entering your property.
However, certain exceptions apply to this rule. There are times the police might not have to obtain a warrant before entering your property. Here are some of these instances:
When they are in hot pursuit of a suspect
If the police are pursuing a suspect who then enters your property, the law generally allows them to follow the suspect in question and execute an arrest without a warrant. Even though your home is your castle, it cannot harbor a suspect.
When there is a plain view
Law enforcement officers do not need a warrant to legally search your property and seize evidence that is clearly visible. For instance, if the police come to your home in response to a domestic situation and notice drugs or other contraband on your coffee table, they may enter and seize such evidence without a warrant.
When you let them in
If you or a roommate who has control over the residence allows the police to enter your home, you will be deemed to have wilfully consented to the police entering your home. Anything they seize following such entry can be legally presented in court.
Safeguarding your rights
So what do you do if the police come knocking at your door? Well, this depends on the circumstances. That said, the first step you need to take is to find out if they have a warrant. If they do, you will need to let them in. If they don’t, however, you need to weigh your options to decide if you should consent to let them in or not. Either way, it knowing your legal options will help you protect your rights when interacting with law enforcement.