Introduction to reasons police may enter and search your home
When police enter and search your home, they need a reason. Many reasons will work for them to be legally in your home. This article will attempt to cover those reasons, so if you want to keep police out of your home, you have a chance.
CONSENT TO ENTER/SEARCH
The first and most all-encompassing way police may enter your home is when you allow them. This is called consent. It must be knowing consent by someone with the apparent authority to allow them to enter. This means that if your girlfriend is visiting for an hour, answers the door for police, and gives them permission to enter and search, the police would reasonably beleive she had the authority to let them in and search. If you are home with your wife, with whom you live, and she allows the police to enter and search, but you tell them to get out, the police may search areas where she has access and control. In that case, they may not search areas of the house where you have kept your wife out: where she has no access, like a safe or locked room. When a defense attorney reads a police report and sees that the suspect gave permission to search them, their belongings, or their home, while its possible to challenge the voluntariness of such a consent, the defense attorney knows this is an uphill battle.
When police are chasing a suspect, they need not stop because the suspect enters a house. They may continue the pursuit into a house. Once inside the house, anything they see in plain view is fair game as evidence. So, if the police chase a bank robber into your home and see you sitting on the couch in possession of drugs, they are legal to arrest you.
EMERGENCIES/DESTRUCTON OF EVIDENCE
If the police have reason to believe that a suspect is destroying evidence inside a home, they may enter to secure the evidence. Recently, in the Kentucky v. King case (2011), the US Supreme Court held that when police knock on a door and announce themselves as police, and hear movement inside that they police can reasonably link to the possibility of destruction of evidence, they may forcibly enter to secure the evidence.
Police may search the home of the person named in an arrest warrant. They may also search the address of anyplace where the person named in the warrant listed as their home with probation and parole, or possibly even addresses they listed in prior arrests. If you keep that list of addresses short, police have less right to search homes of your family looking for you. Remember, on these searches, anything they find in plain view is legal to arrest the people they have probable cause to believe were involved with contraband or evidence they legally find.
If police have a search warrant with your home’s address on it, be cooperative. If your defense attorney can challenge the warrant or affidavit, he will. If you get a new charge of obstructing justice, disorderly conduct, or assault on police while having the warrant served and your home searched, the police, prosecutor, and judge will not be as receptive to an attack on the warrant.
COMMUNITY CARETAKING ROLE OF POLICE
Because the police have a job to protect people from dangerous situations, and render aid, if police see a situation about a home that makes them think someone might need help, they may enter a home to see if someone is hurt or needs help. These cases often revolve around police seeing broken windows, blood drops/splatter, and people looking unconscious in view from a window. If police see this type of situation, they may enter to render aid.
To keep police from being able to enter your home, it’s important to keep your home in a condition that looks normal. To ensure that people visiting know to refuse consent to search because, “it’s not their home.” To refuse consent to search to police yourself. Police can and will lie to get consent. This is legal. A police officer can say that the victim only wants their property back, and they will be happy. When you return the stolen x-box which was taken from a house, the police will then arrest you for burglary because that is what will make him happy: closing a felony case, and all he had to do was legally lie to a suspect to get consent.
If you do nothing wrong, and police wrongfully enter your home, you may have a good case to litigate the suppression of evidence: to keep evidence that the police illegally obtained from being used against you. This is where a good criminal defense attorney can work for you.