Tulsa Attorney BlogThe Cops Are at My Doorstep: What Do I Do

Do Not Invite the Police Into Your Home if You Didn’t Call Them

Video Transcribed: What you should do if you hear a knock at your door one day, and there are officers standing outside your door who are asking to be let in and you didn’t call them. My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m an attorney in Tulsa, Ok. This is a situation that a lot of people might find themselves facing for a variety of reasons. It’s important to know your rights in this situation.

If the police are on your doorstep asking to be let in and you didn’t call them the first thing you should ask, and you should ask this without letting them into the house is do they have a warrant? That is a search warrant or an arrest warrant. Do they have a warrant that allows them access to your home? If the answer is no, the case law is generally pretty solid in saying that absent some extreme exigent circumstances they can’t make you let you let them into your home without a search warrant.

However, if you open the door to them and invite them in, it’s kind of like the old vampire legends, the vampire can’t come in uninvited. But if you invite them in, once they’re inside, they’re inside and that’s kind of how it works with the police. If you invite the officer into the house, now they’re inside the house. And if they see something, any kind of contraband or anything else that is of an illegal nature or of a questionable nature, if it’s in plain view, it’s fair game, that is they can seize it and you could be arrested for having it.

So, if the police are on your doorstep, don’t invite them in. If you didn’t call them, don’t invite them in. Now, if they tell you they have a warrant, I would recommend, first of all, you will want to step outside and have a look at the warrant. Don’t just take their word for it. You want to see the document and your first phone call probably ought to be to a good attorney right away. If you don’t already have one, get one right away if you’re being searched. That means you’re under investigation, that’s a serious situation.

But if they don’t have the warrant, then you’re not obliged to open the door to them. You’re not really obliged to even talk to them. You have a fourth amendment right against them coming in your house without a warrant. That’s your right against unreasonable search and seizure. And you have a fifth amendment right against self-incrimination that basically says you don’t have to talk to them. And generally speaking, it’s in your best interest not to talk to them.

All right. So what about if they show up and say that they have a rit, that it’s the sheriff and they’re there to serve papers in a rit. If they have a rit ordering you to surrender custody of your children, then you do have to comply with that because that’s a court order. And like any other court order, if you defy it, you could be found in contempt.

However, it would be my advice that if that’s the situation, you probably want to look at bringing the child out to them rather than letting them in your home. And I say this because even if you are squeaky clean and you’re pretty sure that you don’t have anything in there that’s going to get you in trouble, it still is the best practice.

Do not invite the police into your home if you didn’t call them because you just don’t know what they might see. And additionally, if they show up with a rit, for example, to pick up your child, you have no idea on the face of it what the allegation was that led to that rit. And you don’t want to turn those police officers, even if there’s nothing inside that could get you arrested, you don’t want to make them into witnesses.

So it’s better to bring your child out to them if they’ll allow you to do that. Again, make no statements. If they show up with DHS, that’s a little bit of a different situation. Again, you should find out if there’s a pickup order right away.

If there’s not a pickup order and the DHS worker’s there because they want to meet with you or meet with your child, this is a judgment call. And this is again where you need to get a lawyer involved right away. If they don’t have a court order to let them in the house right on the spot, you would be wise to ask them to reschedule so that you might have time to consult with legal counsel before you let anyone into your house, who is an agent of the state particularly law enforcement, but also a DHS worker.

Because if this is an unexpected visit, you really have no idea why they’re there or what they want. And just as a heads up with the cops, and this is not so much true with DHS, but with the cops, they do not have to be truthful with you about why they’re there.

If they have a warrant, they have to show it to you, but they can try to deceive you to get you to make an incriminating statement or to get you to consent to a search. So don’t fall for that. You need to get a lawyer involved right away if you get this kind of visit from the police, or if you get a visit from the police with any kind of a court order, like a warrant or rit. That’s an emergency. You need to get a lawyer involved right away.

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