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When do police have a right to enter my home?

The short answer is that police need a warrant to enter your home without your permission.

Thanks to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. What that means is the police cannot intrude upon your body, home, business or possessions without permission.  

As this article explains, a warrant is a court order that grants the police power to conduct a search and seize any evidence related to a crime.

In order to get a warrant, police have to show that:

  1. There are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred, and
  2. It is more than likely that evidence or contraband associated with the crime will be found on the property at issue in the warrant.

Police can show this using their own observations, or observations of others so long as they prove that the information obtained from others was reliable.

Can police ever enter my home without a warrant?

Police may have the authority to enter your home without a warrant in certain situations, including:

  • You give them permission to come inside.
  • There is an emergency situation that requires them to come inside.
  • If a person is being arrested inside your home, police can search the person’s immediate surroundings to protect their safety.
  • If police see evidence of unlawful activity in plain view from a location where they were authorized to be, they may not need a warrant to enter and seize the evidence.

Of course, if evidence was obtained during an illegal search and seizure, it cannot be used against you in a court of law, and the charges against you may have to be dropped.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to the legality of searches and seizures. To know for sure if police were authorized to enter your home, talk to a criminal defense lawyer with extensive constitutional law knowledge for advice.

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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