No one wants to hear the police knocking at their door. It can be very difficult to know how to respond when a police officer turns up on your doorstep wanting to ask you questions or come inside.
If an officer misunderstands what you say or sees something out of context, they might arrest you and try to charge you with a crime. You may feel strongly that you don’t want them in your home even though you know you have not broken the law but don’t want to seem uncooperative if they will gain entry anyway.
When can the police come into your home?
When they have your permission
The reason cops show up and knock on your door is because they need permission to come inside. Many people will let the police into their homes, not realizing that they can’t retract that permission once the officer notices some evidence of criminal activity. A roommate or family member could also allow them inside, although the police may not be able to enter your private spaces in that situation.
When they have a warrant
If a judge agrees that there is likely evidence at your home of criminal activity, they may sign a search warrant. Officers with a valid search warrant can demand entry into your home and search, provided that they do not go outside the scope of the warrant.
When they have probable cause
If a police officer believes there is a crime in progress, they can force their way onto a property. If they hear someone scream for help or smell drugs, they could claim they had probable cause to enter the property. Even the pursuit of someone from a different location for an unrelated offense could be probable cause for entry onto private property.
Knowing when the police can access your home can help you fight back against criminal charges or avoid getting arrested in the first place.