When you were a child, your mom probably taught you not to open the door to strangers, but what about if the strangers are police officers?

Whether you own your own home or rent it, finding a pair of police officers at the door can be worrying. It usually means someone in your family has died, or you are in trouble. Knowing your rights could prevent you from facing criminal charges.

What does the law say about letting the police inside your home?

The law says the police cannot enter your home unless:

  • They have a search warrant: It must have the correct address and carry a judge’s signature. Police can only search the property for the specific items listed on it.
  • They have an arrest warrant: Check it has the correct name, and a judge has signed it.
  • You invite them in: Be careful what you say as it is easy to give permission without intending to.

Can the police ever enter my property without a warrant or my permission?

The police can only enter without a warrant or permission if there are exigent circumstances. They must explain to you what is so important that they need to enter. It can be one of three things: They need to come in to save someone from imminent danger, they have cause to believe someone is destroying evidence or they are chasing a suspect.

If the police enter your property, either with or without your permission, and you end up facing criminal charges, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. Explain the sequence of events to them. If they find the police broke the law at any point, it may be enough to have any evidence against you declared inadmissible.