While many of us don’t think the police will ever come to our houses, a police officer knocking on a door is not an uncommon occurrence. From loud parties to questions about car accidents, many people find themselves answering the door to a police officer. Unfortunately, innocent people get arrested every year and when the police show up at your home you are at risk for being arrested. It’s important to know and protect your rights if the police come to your home. Here’s how to do it:
If the police show up at your house, do not invite them in. Instead, walk outside and close and lock your door behind you. When a cop enters your home, he or she is searching for contraband, and only needs to prove they had a reasonable suspicion in order to do a search. Allowing them in your home makes it more likely they will claim they had a reasonable suspicion, so walk outside instead.
Maintain Control and Order
One of the most common reasons police are called to a home is a loud party. If the police knock on your door, quiet down the party and regain control over your house and your guests. Showing the officers you have control of the situation as well as being courteous is an excellent way to get out of this anxiety-inducing situation as quickly as possible.
Ask Why They Are There
You may think the police are at your house because of your loud party or your delinquent sibling. They might instead be there because they think someone else lives at your house, because they have questions about a nearby crime, or something else altogether. When you assume you know why the police are there, you end up giving them incriminating information about yourself that can be used against you. Instead, politely ask them why they’ve showed up at your house.
Do Not Consent to a Search
A police officer cannot search your home without a warrant or a belief that someone is in immediate danger. You cannot in any way benefit from a search of your home. It’s a violation of your privacy, and the police may find something that can be used as evidence of a crime. Do not give them the right to search your home, and do not allow them to enter your home if they ask to.
Do Not Answer Unnecessary Questions
The police are invested in keeping us all safe, but they also want to arrest people for crimes. Many police officers will ask people completely irrelevant questions for an extended period of time in the hopes of uncovering a crime. As long as you’re answering, they’re allowed to ask. Instead, tell the cop you’d prefer not to answer any questions, ask if you are under arrest, and then request that the officer leave.
It can be tough to maintain composure when the police come to your door, but doing so can keep you out of jail and free of embarrassment. Most importantly, remain courteous to the officers at all times, even if they are not courteous to you. This protects your safety and can help you if you are arrested or end up in court.