There are times when the police unexpectedly knock on your door. These situations have the potential to escalate quickly, despite your best intentions. You do not want your rights infringed upon, but you also do not want a bad situation to get worse. One thing you can do is understand what your rights are ahead of time if the police are at your door.
If the police knock on your door, you do not have to let them into your home unless they first show you a valid warrant signed by a judge. The warrant must contain your address and the items to be searched for if it is a search warrant, or it has your name on it if it is an arrest warrant. Before opening the door, you can ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door so you can inspect it. Alternatively, you could ask the officer to hold the warrant up to a window so you can read it before deciding whether you will open the door.
If the police do have a valid warrant and are at your door, you still have the right to remain silent. You do not need to answer any questions the police ask you. If the police search your home, you can stay silent and just watch them, and then write down what you watched them do as soon as possible.
What can you do?
There are some steps you can take if you believe the police committed an unlawful search or seizure. First, write down your recollections of the incident. If you can, include details such as the police badge numbers and license plate numbers. If there were witnesses, collect their contact information. Finally, you may be able to file a complaint in writing, even anonymously.
Most importantly, do the best you can to stay calm. By knowing the law, staying calm and staying silent you can protect your rights when faced with a search warrant or arrest warrant.