To search your property, police will typically need a warrant. They can also search or enter a property when they have probable cause to suspect a crime in progress. Police officers without the proper legal permission or justification to enter a property won’t be able to use what they find during that search as evidence in criminal proceedings.
Unfortunately, police officers can and will trick people into situations where they inadvertently wave their own rights. Although the Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches, it only takes a few moments for a police officer to sidestep this important protection.
One of the fastest ways for an officer to gain entry to a home they couldn’t legally search involves them asking to come inside as part of a casual conversation. An officer shows up at your front door, starts a conversation and then asks if they can step inside to continue talking with you. If you let them in, you could later find yourself facing charges as a result.
Letting the police inside can be a mistake
Although your first instinct may be to agree, if you let a police officer into your house, you may face an uphill battle if you want them to leave later. Officers who gain access will look for whatever evidence they can find.
While a police officer may tell you they want to come inside just to talk with you briefly, their real goal may be to look around inside your home. Anything from items they claim look like drug paraphernalia to certain kinds of bird feathers might give them probable cause to search your house. If they see signs of anything illegal, they can then continue searching even if you ask them to leave.
You must stand up for your fourth amendment rights or lose them
The police will sometimes break the law in their efforts to uphold it. The only way to protect your rights is to know them and to assert them in every encounter you have with law enforcement.
If you believe that something improper happened during a conversation with police or a search of your property, certain kinds of misconduct could play a role in your defense strategy. Learning more about the civil rights that protect you when you face criminal charges will help you better answer those pending charges.