As a general rule, a police officer is not allowed to come into your home uninvited. No one is. Your home is a private place, and you generally do not have to allow the authorities inside just because they are members of the police department.
Of course, the police do have ways in which they can legally enter a house. If they make an arrest or gather evidence, it’s very important that they do this by the book, as evidence that is improperly gathered may not be admissible in court. With that in mind, here are three ways that they can potentially enter your home lawfully, although not in a friendly capacity.
With your consent
First and foremost, the police may simply ask for your consent. If you give it to them, then they’ll be allowed to come in unless you decide to remove that consent. A police officer may ask to come inside and talk to you or to have a look around. Anything that they see in plain view could be gathered as evidence or used as a reason to conduct a more extensive search.
With a warrant
If the police cannot get your consent, they can sometimes get a warrant from a judge. They will need to present their reasoning and potential evidence to the judge to secure this warrant. For example, maybe they want to search for illegal drugs in the home, so they need to show the judge why they believe you have illegal drugs in your home and why a search is necessary to prove this suspicion.
In an emergency
Finally, there are some emergency situations that allow police to enter a home even when they don’t have a warrant or consent from a homeowner. An example of this would be if they hear gunshots or yelling from inside of a house and they think that a crime is in process or that there’s a danger to the public. Another example is if they are in hot pursuit of a suspect.
Your defense options
If the police do enter your home, this can have a major impact on the admissibility of evidence against you in court, if you’ve been charged with wrongdoing based on that search. Be sure you know about all of your rights and all of the defense options you have at your disposal.