Your home is where you feel safe. It is also where you keep your possessions and share time with the people you care about the most.
Unfortunately, from the perspective of the police, your home is where you probably have the most incriminating evidence about any illicit activities. Police officers who suspect you of a crime will want to search your home. When is it legal for the police to enter your home and search?
When someone gives them permission
Police aren’t always honest about their intentions. They might knock on your door and claim they just want to ask you a few questions. They hope that you invite them inside, thereby allowing them to look around for signs of criminal activity. If they notice anything that might constitute evidence of criminal activity, they can then begin to search your home regardless of what you say at that point.
When they have probable cause or during a pursuit
The police don’t have to be in your house to establish probable cause for a search. They could witness something from outside that makes them think a crime is underway. Screaming, smells associated with drugs and even a toilet flushing might result in the police entering a home to conduct a search. When pursuing someone fleeing the police, officers may also enter a property if that individual goes into a yard or home.
When they have a warrant
If the police already have some degree of evidence against you, they may go to a judge and request a search warrant. They can then search your home, but only within the scope of the warrant. Understanding when police can search your home can help you determine if an illegal search might play a role in your criminal defense strategy.