When the police come to your home and ask to come inside to “look around,” it can be scary. Most people don’t know what to do or say. Many times, citizens allow the police to come inside their home and search. Other times, citizens voluntarily offer up their homes to be searched believing that it will absolve them of wrongdoing because the police won’t find what they’re looking for. Unless the police have a warrant or legal justification to search your home, you should never consent to the police searching your home.

Should I Let The Police Search My Home Without A Warrant Or Legal Justification?

If the police are asking to enter your home that means that they don’t have what is required to legally enter your home. It also means that they believe that incriminating evidence might be inside your home and they would like to enter your home to either confirm or dispel their suspicions. Police officers have one job to do and that is to make arrests. You have one job to do and that is to stay out of jail. Therefore, it’s important that you don’t do the police officer’s job for him. You have the right to say no to an officer’s request to search your home and you should invoke that right.

If the police enter your home with your consent, you would have provided them with the legal justification they need to go into your home and search. That means that anything they find that might be evidence of criminal activity can lead to your arrest and prosecution and ultimately send you to prison. Also, by providing consent to enter your home, you will not be able to present the argument in court that the police unlawfully searched your home and the evidence of the crime should be suppressed.

Police officers in cities like Chicago are constantly looking to get guns off the street and many times they don’t have any evidence that a gun is inside of a home so they ask the owner if they can come inside and look around. As a Chicago police brutality and misconduct attorney, I always tell people to simply say NO to the police officer’s request to search your home. You should not feel pressured into agreeing to the officers request. You are not being a bad citizen by saying no. In fact, you are being a good citizen by making the police get a warrant to enter your home.

When you give consent to a police officer to search your home you are not consenting to only allowing the police officer to come in and search for what they said they were looking for. When a police officer enters your home, they will be looking for any criminal activity. That means that if they asked if they can come in and look for a gun, that doesn’t mean the officer will look past the cocaine on the table. It also doesn’t mean that the police will limit their search to the person they claimed to be involved in criminal activity. That means that if they come to your home and say they believe your son might be involved in a shooting and they want to look in his room for the gun they are not limited to only looking in his room. Once you’ve provided consent for them to search your home, they can, and oftentimes do, search other parts of the home. If your son’s room is on the second floor, that doesn’t mean they won’t also look in the basement. To avoid this happening to you, do not consent to the police searching your home.

When Can The Police Enter My Home Without My Consent?

The police can enter your home if they have a search warrant signed by a judge. Typically, the police will go to a judge and ask for a warrant to enter a home and search it. They must provide the judge with specific articulable facts to the judge as to why they should be allowed to search your home and what they are looking for. If the judge is satisfied that the officers have provided credible information that evidence of a crime is present at a location, only then will the judge sign the warrant giving the police the legal authority to enter a home and search. The warrant will state the places that the police can search. For example, it might say that the officers can search the inside of the residence, but it might not mention anything about the garage.

There are other instances when the police might have legal justification to enter and search a home without a warrant. For example, if the police are in hot pursuit of a suspect who is in possession of a gun or illegal narcotics and they see him enter a residence, the police are allowed to follow the suspect into the residence and conduct a reasonable search of the home to locate the individual they pursued and the illegal contraband the suspect had. Another example is if the police receive a 911 call that someone is being harmed inside of a home, the police are allowed to enter the home to prevent harm and ensure safety. The police do not have to wait for a warrant before entering a home and stop a crime from being committed. These are just a few examples of exceptions to the warrant requirement for police to enter a home without a warrant.

What To Do If the Police Have A Warrant To Search My Home?

If the police come to your home and they tell you they have a warrant to enter and search your home, you should ask to see the warrant. You want to ask to see the warrant so that in the event the police are lying, you can know that up front if they are unable to provide a copy of the warrant. Also, a search warrant often lists the places the police are allowed to search and the items they are allowed to take. Under no circumstances are you to attempt to stop the police from entering your home. If they have a warrant, allow the police officers to enter your home and conduct their search. Interfering with the search could lead to your arrest.

What If The Police Search My House Without My Consent Or Legal Justification?

When the police ask to search your home, that means they don’t have a warrant or legal justification to enter your home. If you do not provide consent to the police to search your home and they do it anyway, you could have a basis to bring a civil rights lawsuit against the police for an unlawful search of your home. As a Chicago civil rights and police misconduct attorney, I’ve handled many unlawful home search cases. Unlawful home searches are one of the civil rights violations you can sue the police for.

You should never try to prevent the police from searching your home, even if the police are in the wrong. Do your best to get the names of the officers who entered your home. If you are able, record the search from a safe distance so that you can have evidence of the unlawful search. After the search is over and the police have left your home, record and take photos of any damage the police caused. You should also contact an experienced civil rights attorney so that you can discuss your legal options.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of an unlawful police search or police misconduct, contact us toady.


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