If the police have a warrant to search your home, they are legally allowed to enter the house. These warrants can have restrictions, such as saying what part of the house they can search, but the warrants also do give permission to override your consent. Often, the police will ask for your consent first and then get a warrant if you don’t provide it.
But, other than having your consent or a warrant that was issued by a judge, how can the police enter your house? There are a few different ways that you need to be aware of.
There’s an emergency
First of all, in emergency situations, police officers are not expected to take the time to get a warrant. If they think that someone is in danger or that evidence is being destroyed, then they may be able to enter the home. This is also true when they’re in hot pursuit of a suspect. The time constraints of such an event mean that warrants aren’t always necessary, even though the police may have to demonstrate probable cause after the fact.
They see evidence in plain view
In some cases, the police are also allowed to gather evidence that is in plain view, as anyone could have seen it and there was no expectation of privacy. There are situations in which this could give them grounds to go further into your home, although they may have needed a reason to enter it initially.
For example, if the police officer knocked on your door and asked to come in, and you opened the door to tell them that you were unwilling to provide your consent for a search, you should consider what they can see in the house. The officer may claim that they saw illegal drugs or an illegal firearm on the kitchen table, for instance. If something like this does happen, then the officer may be able to gather that evidence under the plain view doctrine.
What should you do next?
If you’re involved in a case like this and you believe the police may have violated your rights through an illegal search, then it’s very important for you to understand exactly what legal steps to take.