The police in your area have made a number of drug arrests, and they’re trying to see who else is involved. They knock on your door one day and ask to come in and have a look around.
Naturally, you feel like you’re supposed to let them come in or you’ll make yourself appear guilty, but you worry that doing so will allow them to plant evidence or will give you a chance to accidentally incriminate yourself for something you didn’t do. You would rather that they stayed outside. Do you have to let them in?
If they don’t have a warrant, it’s generally up to you
The first thing to note is that the officers want your consent. That’s why they’re knocking and asking. If you do not give it to them, they can’t legally come in. That’s your right as a homeowner. Do not assume that you have to do what they say. You do not.
If they have a warrant, then consent matters less. They may still ask for it, but, if you decline, they can enter anyway. If they tell you that they’re going to do this, it is wise to ask if you can see the warrant.
There are a few other ways that they can enter without consent or without a warrant, and usually this just means they have the freedom to act if there is some sort of emergency in process. If they were chasing someone who ran into your house, for instance, or if they heard gunshots from in the house, then they can come inside.
If they do enter without your permission and without a warrant, they may have violated your rights. They’ll have to show why they did so in court. If they did not have a valid reason, they may then have to pull any evidence gathered during the search from the court case.
What legal steps can you take?
Do you think that the police did conduct an illegal search before charging you with drug crimes? You need to know about all of the legal options you have.