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When Can Police Enter Your Home Without a Warrant?

Posted on September 13, 2021 in Criminal Law

In times of extreme security concerns, when people are worried about violent criminals lurking in their neighborhood or about the danger of bombs being made in their area, many people wonder when the legal restrictions on police entering a home to begin. When a crime occurs, police will often arrive at the scene and find evidence of a criminal act, such as drugs, guns, knives, etc. They will then investigate these crimes to determine if they fit a pattern of what the criminal is likely to do next. If the police suspect that a certain crime may have been carried out in broad daylight outside their home, they will often enter the home to look for evidence.

When this occurs, they will look through the house with a flashlight in order to see any signs of a break-in, evidence of a hiding place, etc. Usually, they will look for anything that is out of place, such as a door with a lock, a window with no window screen, etc. Any items they feel is suspicious, they will often confiscate. When a police officer looks for evidence of a crime, they are considered to be investigating that crime. Generally speaking, they cannot enter your home without a warrant when they have a reason to believe you committed a specific crime.

This crime becomes an issue when there is a discrepancy between the police officer’s observations and your privacy expectations. A common problem that arises is the fact that police officers are allowed to enter private homes without warning when they have reason to believe a crime has been committed inside. Some jurisdictions support this right by allowing police departments to enter the premises whenever they feel it is necessary, but not all do. Consequently, if the issue were to arise where the courts upheld the right of the police department to enter without warning, how would the courts treat the situation? There are a few things to consider.

In some cases, the courts have held that police can enter private homes without warning when there is reason to believe that someone may be entering the home illegally. The majority of courts have held that if there is reason to believe that a person has entered a home in an illegal manner, the police should be able to enter and make the arrest. It is important to realize that there are only a handful of police departments nationwide that have been found to have this authority. Even if a jurisdiction does have this power, it is very rare for courts to recognize this.

Beyond the actual reason that the police are being allowed to enter, there is still another concern regarding the search itself. Once the warrant is obtained, the police must follow the procedures that are set forth in the state or federal law. Specifically, they must serve the papers upon the individual. If the suspect does not leave the home, the police must follow to see that the papers are actually served. If they are not served properly, it is up to the courts to determine whether they were properly served.

However, you do need to be aware of the police department’s policy on warrant searches. The policy states that if a search turns up an outstanding warrant, the police must first try to contact the judicial authority. If that fails, then the police must take all measures necessary to locate and arrest the individual who owns the warrant.



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