Latest News 2017 November Why You Should Never Consent to a Search of Your Home

Why You Should Never Consent to a Search of Your Home

Unless you're experienced with interacting with police as a private citizen, most people don't understand the dynamic between their rights and law enforcement. For the most part, inexperienced citizens just want to cooperate with police at every moment because they've been taught "only criminals have something to hide." Others may recognize that they have rights, but don't want to provoke the officer out of fear of making things harder for themselves.

As a result, during police encounters, citizens routinely waive:

  • Their right to remain silent
  • Their right to refuse searches
  • Their ability to prevent arrests

In many cases, arrests happen because people don't know how to protect themselves from police officers who appear to have altruistic intentions. Today's blog discusses why and how you should resist police efforts to search your home without a warrant.

Why You Don't Let Them In

Your home is the most constitutionally protected property when it comes to unreasonable searches—it's more protected than your body, your car, or your pockets. There are only two legal ways officers may search your home: if they have a warrant…or if you consent to a search. Getting you to consent is far easier for an officer than getting a search warrant.

So imagine the following situation:

The police are at your door. They've gotten a noise complaint, or they're going door-to-door as part of a "neighborhood safety program." They ask if they can come in. You, being a nice person and not wanting to cause any trouble, let them into your home. There's your mistake—you've just consented to a search, and anything found may be used against you.

One, police officers are legally permitted to lie to you in order to investigate crime. Does the neighborhood safety program exist? It may not. Did they hear a noise complaint? It makes for a convenient excuse to investigate a party for drugs or underage drinking.

Two (and this is more important), police officers are not your friends. If they're on your property without you calling them, they aren't there to protect you—they're there to investigate potential crime. Letting them in makes it more likely that you will be arrested. No exceptions. If they search your home, you're either lucky, or they arrest you. Don't play the odds; just keep them out.

Three, refusing a search is not grounds for getting a search warrant. Exercising your Fourth Amendment rights is not evidence that you're hiding something. It doesn't make you a suspect, and no, it's not just criminals who have something to hide. It's your right to keep your home private and concealed from law enforcement. Even if you're a model citizen with a spotless record, you don't have to explain why you want your privacy. That's the nature of privacy.

If you learn one thing from this blog, let it be this: you'll never make things worse by exercising your constitutional rights. Ever.

How to Protect Your Fourth Amendment Rights

If you're unsure about how to protect your constitutional rights, here are some tips:

  • Step outside to greet the officers—don't invite them in.
  • Lock the door behind you—it makes it harder for the police to say you verbally consented if you kept your door locked.
  • Create only one easy entrance to your home—if given a choice, officers will use the least obvious entrance to your home to gain entry. Especially if you're having a party.
  • When they ask if they can search your home, say the following words: "Officers, I do not consent to searches without a warrant."

Only one of two things will happen: they'll leave to get a search warrant (which will be difficult if they don't have reasonable suspicion or a specific item they're trying to find) or they'll leave you alone. Thankfully, it will be more likely the latter.

Categories: Illegal Searches