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Will you look guilty if you don't let police into your home?

This is a question many people may ask themselves or someone else. After all, if you believe you have nothing to hide, why wouldn't you let police into your home? The answer to that question is a simple one: You have the right to refuse them entry without a search warrant. Doing so doesn't indicate guilt. It indicates that you know your rights and want to assert them.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court give you the maximum amount of protection from an illegal search and seizure in your home. Just because you could allow police to enter does not mean you have to do so.

What should you do if police knock on your door?

If the officers at your door have a valid search warrant signed by a judge, then you do have to let them in. However, in the absence of that warrant, you do not have to let them in. The only other way officers can legally gain entry into your home is if you let them in, which means you gave consent. Any questionable items in "plain view" could result in a legal search and seizure. Instead, you could do the following:

  • You could simply not answer the door. You are not obligated to open the door to anyone, including the police, unless they have a search warrant.
  • You could open your door, but only as far as a chain lock would allow it to open. You do not have to open your door any wider to speak with police who do not have a warrant.
  • You could exit your home, close the door behind you and talk to police outside your residence. If you have another exit, you could use it and then meet them out front if you think they may attempt to force their way into your home.

In any case, be polite. The officers could simply ask you questions about a crime that occurred in your building or neighborhood. If the officers do want to search your home because they suspect you of some criminal activity, politely tell them that they cannot enter without a search warrant. In some cases, the officers would not ask for your consent if they had enough evidence to obtain a valid warrant.

If officers tell you they will return with a warrant, you may want to make your next step a call to an attorney here in the Bronx. The more you know about your rights ahead of time, the better off you may be if you end up facing charges.

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Belovin Franzblau & Associates, P.C.
2311 White Plains Road
Bronx, NY 10467

Phone: 347-773-3628
Phone: 718-655-2900
Phone: 718-655-2000
Fax: 718-655-2363
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