It’s 10:30 in the morning, and you hear an unexpected knock at your door. You peak through the window to see that it’s the San Diego police and they want to talk with you. Are you obligated by law to open the door to the police? Can you refuse to let them in? Will you be arrested for not complying?
Many people are unaware that they have rights when the police come to their door. You are not obligated to open the door to the police, allow them into your home or answer their questions unless they have a valid warrant.
It is worthwhile to understand what the police can and cannot do when they approach your home, as well as your rights and responsibilities during these interactions. Read on to learn more about what you should do if the police come to your door and how a San Diego criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights when dealing with the police.
When can the police search your home?
Under the California law, there are specific circumstances in which law enforcement can search your home. In most cases, they will require a search warrant in order to access your property. Property can include your home, vehicle or business.
Search warrants are issued by judges and give police the authority to search your property. In order for a judge to issue a warrant, the prosecuting entity must convince the judge that a misdemeanor or felony crime has been committed, and that police are likely to find evidence of that crime in their search of your property. The judge must have probable cause, or the reasonable belief that a crime was committed and that evidence of that crime would be found in a specific location, in order to issue the warrant.
There are some cases in which the police do not need a search warrant in order to access your property and perform a search. These situations can include:
- Either you, or another authorized person, has given the police authority to enter the premises.
- There is serious threat of property damage or harm to a human being.
- The search is required as part of a lawful arrest.
What are my rights when police come to my home?
The 4th Amendment protects you from “illegal search and seizure.” Searches must also be reasonable under the law. This protects citizens from the police barging into your home without a valid warrant. It also maintains your right to privacy and safety within your own home.
With that being said, you are not obligated to let the police into your home just because they want to enter. Unless they have a warrant to perform the search, you can keep your door closed and refuse to answer their questions.
Most likely, you will not have the opportunity to consult with your attorney before this occurs. Until you are able to speak with your San Diego defense attorney, you should tell the police that you will not consent to a search without a search warrant. You can also tell them that you will not answer their questions without your attorney present.
Some police officers will try to encourage you to comply by making statements that imply that you will be arrested for obstructing justice or that you must have something to hide. Do not allow them to convince you that you are breaking the law.
What happens if the police search my home illegally?
If the police have illegally or unreasonably searched your home or property, you should immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney. The right attorney can help you understand your rights and determine if those rights were violated.
Attorney Joni Eisenstein has over 25 years of experience helping clients understand and enforce their rights when dealing with law enforcement. If you have questions or concerns about illegal searches, warrants or your criminal charges, do not wait to contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today.
Our experienced and knowledgeable California defense attorney knows the law and can help you fight your criminal charges resulting from an illegal search or seizure in San Diego.