Tulsa Attorney BlogFourth Amendment Rights: What to Do When the Police Are at Your Doorstep

Cops Do Not Have to Be Honest About Why They’re There

Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa lawyer and today I want to talk about your Fourth Amendment rights with respect to the police when they arrive at your doorstep.

Now, an interesting thing to know about search and seizure law when it comes to your home. As a general rule, unless they have a warrant, the police are kind of like the old vampire legends and I’m sure some of you remember this, where the idea was that a vampire could never come into your home unless they got invited in. Well, it’s the same thing with the cops, unless they got a warrant. If they do not have a warrant, the only way they get in your house is if you invite them in.

attorney in OklahomaThis is an important thing to remember because if a cop shows up at your doorstep and you were not the one that called them, chances are they’re there for some other issue and they may be there to serve papers. They may be there because somebody called the cops on you. You have no idea. Or they may be going door to door. But what you do know is you didn’t call them.

Well, understand that unless they show you a piece of paper that purports to be a search warrant, you don’t have to let them in your house and you should consider carefully whether you do let them in your house as well because there is a risk involved with that potential. One, you don’t know why they’re there.

And two, they’re not obliged to tell you the truth about why they’re there. And if they happen to, if you happen to let them in the house and they claim to see, smell, hear, or whatever, something that is evidence of a crime, then you run into the plain view exception to the warrant requirement. In other words, they walk into your house and see what looks like a bong, or like a glass pipe or something else that looks like evidence of criminal activity, they can seize that and search the area.

So a good rule of thumb with that is if you didn’t call the cops and you don’t need help, either don’t answer the door, or if you’re obliged to answer the door, you go outside and talk to them. Do not invite them in.

If they don’t have a warrant, you don’t have to let them in your house and it’s usually safer not to. I mean, I talked about this in the context of cars, but it same goes for your house. Unless you are a hundred percent sure there’s nothing in there that’s going to cause you a problem and get you searched or arrested, you’re better off not to let them in the house.

Now, if you called them, for some reason, that’s different. But if you didn’t call them, don’t let them in your house because you run the risk of what they might say they thought they saw, heard, smelled, tasted, whatever, that led to them searching you and potentially arresting you.

So, keep that in mind. You don’t have to let them in and it’s probably a good safety measure not to. If you’ve got questions about that, you should go to make laweasy.com and we’ll help you out.

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