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Your civil rights when the police come knocking at your door

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Finding the police at the door of your Tennessee home can be confusing. It can also be scary when they demand you to let them in to search your home. However, you have certain rights in such a situation. It’s important to know how to respond and what you can or don’t have to do.

Police can’t legally search without a warrant

If the police want to search your home, they need a warrant to legally be able to do so. Per applicable criminal law, you are not under any obligation to allow them to perform a search. Your Fourth Amendment rights protect you against an illegal search and seizure. The main way police can legally search your home without a warrant is if you give consent.

You don’t have to let them in

You don’t even have to let the police into your home if they show up at your door. If you’re worried about what might happen, you can look through your peephole or simply ask who’s at the door. You can prevent them from coming in by meeting them outside through a different door, speaking through your ajar door with the chain lock in place, or not even answer the door at all.

They must tell you why they are at your door

You have the right to ask the police why they have come to your home. You can be respectful and ask them, “May I help you?” Usually, when police visit your property, it might not even be about you and might be something simple. The police might be investigating a robbery in the neighborhood and ask whether you’ve seen or heard anything. It might be something completely different.

Sometimes, the police might be visiting because they want to investigate something that’s supposedly happening in your home. However, you are not under any obligation to allow them inside unless they have a search warrant. If this is the case, you should simply be respectful and tell them you can’t let them in unless they have one. After the police leave, you will want to contact an attorney to discuss the matter.

Educate people close to you

Per criminal law, others close to you should be informed of their rights when the police show up at their home. It can help protect their rights.

If the police have shown up at your door unexpectedly, you have civil rights. You don’t have to let them inside.

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