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Police at my door: what should I do?

Your home is your proverbial castle. Do not be intimated by the police or other agents. Know your rights.

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No Warrant, No Search!

The United States and Colorado Supreme Courts have ruled that your home is entitled to maximum search protection. Your rights against search and seizure are strongest in your home. Even if they have probable cause to believe something illegal is going on inside your home, the 4th Amendment requires police to get a signed search warrant from a neutral judge to legally enter your home and search.

Beware “Consent”

The biggest exception to the search warrant requirement is where consent is given to an officer’s request to enter. If, for example, you legally invite an officer into your home, any illegal items that are out in the open —  or in “plain view” — can be seized as evidence, which can lead to your arrest. As an aside you should always keep any private items that you don’t want others to see out of view of your entrance area.

Refuse to Let Them Inside

  1. If there are police at your door, you have a few options:You may greet them outside, perhaps exiting through another door;
  2. You can speak with officers through the opening protected by your chain lock; or
  3. If police come to your door and do not require your help, you can simply decline to answer the door all-together. If they do not have a warrant, they will eventually leave.

Determine Why They Are There

There is NO reason to be rude or antagonistic. Calmly and respectfully ask, “How can I help you?”

More often than not, an officer’s visit will have little to do with you or be something you can easy fix. For example, an officer may be seeking information about a whether you witnesses a crime committed in your neighborhood. Or she or he might be responding to a noise complaint. If it is a noise complaint against you, It is better to just apologize for the inconvenience, then turn down the music or bring in your barking dog from the backyard. Even then you need not invite them in, and should not.

If an officer wants to investigate activities taking place in your home and asks to enter, you might even be a suspect in a criminal investigation.If that is the case you should remain silent — except to say:

Officer, I can’t let you inside without a search warrant.

Following such an encounter, you should immediately contact a lawyer before speaking to police:

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Muhaisen & Muhaisen, LLC. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction