The police want to search my home. What should I do?
If an officer knocks on your door, do not open the door right away. First, ask through the door what they are there for. If they want to search your home, ask if they have a warrant. If they do not have a warrant, do not let th em in. Do not answer any of their questions. Let them know that you know your rights. You can say “I don’t have to answer that.” or ” I don’t want to talk to you. If they say they do have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door or a mail slot. Other options are for them to show it to you through a window or through the peep hole. If you must open the door to view the warrant, open it as little as possible. Here’s why: The police can make a warrant-less search or seizure if they see evidence in plain view. Once you view the warrant make sure it’s legitimate. Just because a piece of paper says “Warrant” on it does not mean that it’s what it says it is. (See Below for more information on legitimate warrants). If the warrant is not accurate or complete, tell the police officers and say “I do not consent to the search” If the officers still decide to come in, do not interfere. Instead, do these things:
- Call your lawyer immediately.
- Get each officer’s names, badge numbers and agency information
- If other people are in your home, have them act as witnesses
- If you are allowed to watch search, take notes of everything they do
- Write down everything you seem them do
- If they take anything, write that down as well.
What are my rights?
Law Enforcement have no legal right to search your home, unless you consent, OR unless they have a search warrant. Also, If you have guests in your home who answer the door, they can give the police permission to enter as well. It does not matter whether they live there or not.
What is a Warrant?
A warrant is a legal document, signed by a judge that gives law enforcement authorization to enter a private residence or other building in order to search or make an arrest. A Search Warrant will list specific items that are being searched for. The document authorizes law enforcement to enter specific places, find and seize specific items. A Search warrant does not allow police to arrest people, unless they find something within their search that would Justify Arrest. An Arrest Warrant authorizes law enforcement to take a specific person into custody. An arrest warrant does not authorize searches. However, police may seize evidence that is in plain sight.
How can I tell if the Warrant is Legitimate?
A search warrant must include the following details:
- The Authorizing Judge’s Name
- Your name or: a accurate and detailed description of what you look like.
- Address of the place to be searched
- Description of items being searched for.
- Name of the government agency conducting the warrant