For the last few years, police raids and warrants have been in the news. This has made many wonder what they would do if they one day found police at their door. If that happens, do you have to let them in?
Breaching your home versus waiting for you to answer
If your home is truly being raided, you may think the police will kickdown your door without warning. However, these types of “no knock” warrants are rarely used. This means that the police may have a warrant to search your home, but they still knock first. Though, if they have a warrant, and you are not home or do not answer your door, they can breach your door.
Ask to see the warrant
If you hear the bang on your door, do you have to answer? If they have a warrant, the police can enter your home, so letting them in is less expensive than letting them break down your door. Plus, this takes away any argument that you attempted to obstruct or impede the lawful execution of that warrant. The key here is whether they have a warrant.
When you hear the knocking, it is OK to ask if the police have a warrant before opening the door. If they have a warrant, then it is, generally, a good idea to let the police in. But, this does not mean you are consenting to the search. If you do not consent, make sure you say as such and do so repeatedly. Even police with a valid warrant may want your consent to shore up their case. Plus, they may think you have a good challenge to the underlying warrant, and they want to make sure they take away your ability to litigate that issue by getting you to consent to the search.
What if they do not have a warrant?
If they say they only have some questions for you, and they do not have a warrant, then you are under no duty to help the police with their investigation. You can tell them as much and invoke your right to remain silent. At that point, you can go back to what you were doing. If they continue to bang on your door, report their harassing behavior.
What do I do once they are in?
Your three immediate concerns are: call your lawyer, document everything and remain silent. Document the entire interaction from the beginning at the door, and get as much information from the police as possible. And, finally, once they are in, let them do their job, but do not interact with them. They are trained to trip you up.