Most people understand that the police cannot search a home without either consent or a warrant, but there are some misconceptions about what constitutes consent. For example, if you open the door and allow the officers to come into your home, is that enough to permit them to search your home?
Familiarize yourself with the guidelines for permitting police officers in your home to protect your legal rights.
An invite in the door is not an invitation to search
If you open the door and invite the officers into your home, that invitation is simply permission to enter, not to search. That means that the police cannot proceed to search your drawers, cabinets or closets without a warrant. For added protection, tell the officers specifically that they can come in but cannot search your home.
Anything in the open is fair game
If you have anything out in the open that is visible, whether you have pictures on the wall or pills on the coffee table, those items are fair game for the police to inspect if they are in plain view. However, you can minimize this exposure by telling police that, while they may enter your home, they may not progress beyond your foyer without a warrant.
You do not have to refuse police officers entry to your home to protect your rights. These tips can help you preserve your rights while still being hospitable. However, you also have the right to step outside instead. There is no legal obligation to permit police officers into your home without probable cause or a warrant.