With so many uncertainties surrounding law enforcement and individual rights, you may wonder about the proper response when the police knock on your door. The entertainment industry often portrays these interactions in misleading ways, so understanding your rights can help protect you.
There are different ways to handle the police at your door depending on the situation. Before you open the door, ask if they have a warrant.
What if they do not have a warrant?
When the police knock on your door without an active warrant, you have more freedom in how you handle the situation. In fact, you have no obligation to even answer the door. If you do decide to answer the door, be cautious. If you have an interior and outer storm door, lock the storm door as soon as you open the interior door and answer questions through the door.
Avoid opening the door further than necessary to prevent any “plain view” issues. You are also within your rights to refuse to answer questions and advise the officers that they cannot enter your home without a warrant.
What if they do have a warrant?
If the officers at your door have a warrant to search your home, they have a legal right to do so. When you open the door, find somewhere out of the way to stand or follow the leading officer’s instruction so that you avoid any implication of obstruction. Ask to see the warrant and review it carefully.
Understanding your rights and responsibilities helps to foster a more positive and productive interaction while protecting yourself in case of forthcoming charges.