In general, the police have no right to enter your home without a search warrant. They can certainly ask you if they’re allowed to come in and search, but you’re under no obligation to let them do so. If they tell you that you have no choice, ask to see the warrant. They need to show it to you, and, if they don’t have one, they must go get it before entering.
Reasons for a warrantless search
If they have entered without a warrant and searched your home, you may already feel like your rights were violated. To determine if they were or not, you need to consider some of the reasons that they can occasionally conduct a warrantless search. Examples include:
- Police believed an emergency was taking place, perhaps because there was a fire, they heard screams or there were shots fired
- They were actively engaged in pursuit or trying to stop a crime
- They saw evidence in plain view that gave them reasonable suspicion that a search was needed
- They believed they would lose evidence or that it would be destroyed if they waited for a warrant
- Someone else was clearly in danger in the home and needed protection
When the police decide to use these reasons, they may have to justify them later. For instance, it could still be an illegal search if they claim someone was in danger in the home but there is absolutely no evidence of that after the fact. This is why it’s incredibly important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyer if you’ve been arrested and you feel that the entire process was questionable at best.