There’s a knock at the door, and you see the police standing outside. Whether it’s a couple of officers in blue standing there or a pair of detectives in suits, you need to know how to protect yourself.
Here are some things that you should keep in mind about your rights when police come to your home and how to handle the situation:
Find out if they have a warrant to enter.
Remain on your side of the door until you’re shown a warrant that gives the police the right to enter your home. If they say that they have a warrant, ask them to hold it up where you can see it or slide it under the door.
If you allow the police into your home without a warrant, that may be considered a form of consent to a search — particularly if the police happen to notice something sitting around that could be evidence of a crime (like drug paraphernalia).
Don’t let yourself be baited into giving up information.
If the police do have a warrant to enter the home, keep your eyes straight ahead. The police will likely be watching you to see if you’re nervously looking around at an area that you don’t really want them to search.
If the police do find anything suspect, don’t be baited in to giving up your right against self-incrimination. You aren’t required to answer questions like, “Is this yours?” or “What is this?” Doing so can hurt you.
If the police leave without arresting you, take notes.
Write down everything that happened, who was present, what was said and anything else you can remember about the encounter as quickly as you can. If possible, get badge numbers and other identifying information that may be needed later.
If the police have been at your door or inside your home, assume that you could be in trouble. Just because they left without arresting you, that doesn’t mean that an arrest isn’t coming. Find out what an experienced criminal defense attorney can do to help you.