Can the Police Break Down My Door?

Let’s say the police are banging on your door, demanding to come inside. What can you do? What are your rights as a citizen? Do you have to let the police in? Does the law have the right to break down your door? These are all critical questions, and the answers depend on a variety of factors.

It is important to remember that your home is supposed to be your most protected place. It is meant to be where you have the maximum right to privacy and the right to refuse entrance to anyone. Under the Fourth Amendment, the government cannot enter a place protected without a warrant. There are exceptions to this rule, however. One of these items could technically allow police to enter your home without a warrant.

When police may not need a warrant

  1. If consent has been given. Many people do not realize they have a right to refuse a search, and police do not have to tell you that you have the right to refuse a search.
  2. The plain view doctrine. Police can legally search an area and seize evidence if it is visible. For example, police can enter your home and perform a search and seize evidence should they witness an illegal act outside your home.
  3. Search incident to arrest. Police officers do not need a warrant to perform a search in connection with an arrest. This usually occurs when they need to perform a search of you, your vehicle, or your property to ensure you do not have weapons. This is also the case should they believe that evidence may be destroyed or lost in relation to the crime.
  4. Exigent Circumstances occur when the police feel that the time it would take to get a warrant would put a risk to public safety. For example, police can forcibly enter a home if there is probable cause that evidence is being destroyed.

Just because you got arrested doesn’t mean it is over.

Many rules must be followed for an arrest to follow an acceptable procedure. This is especially the case should a person be arrested in their own home without a warrant present. For example, take the case of Nieves v. State in 2019, where a man was arrested in his hotel room without a warrant. Police officers broke the window and unlocked the door with the help of hotel management. The suspect was arrested for domestic violence and subsequent charges of non-violent resisting of an arrest. His attorneys successfully argued that the charges should be dropped because officers did not have a warrant and sufficient reason to enter the hotel room without one. If you have been charged with a crime in or around Salt Lake City, UT, call attorney Christopher Ault at 801-987-8409 to speak with a legal professional and schedule a consultation.

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