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Can you refuse to open the door to the police?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2022 | Criminal Law

If you hear a knocking at your door and look out to see the police there, what you do next is crucial. Many people who wrongly thought they had to open the door have ended up facing criminal charges they could perhaps have avoided by leaving the door shut.

Police officers know that many people do not understand their rights, so they may try to persuade or pressure people into opening up.

Once you open the door, all an officer must lean against it or put their foot in it to prevent you from closing it again. It then becomes a battle of wills as to who tires first. You cannot leave your door open all day, and they cannot stand there all day either.

The police can only enter for specific reasons:

If they have a search warrant for the premises

You do not need to open the door to read it. Tell them to hold it to the window or keyhole or push it under the door. If the address is incorrect or it lacks a judge’s signature, you can tell them to go away.

If they have probable cause to think a crime is happening inside

If the police hear someone screaming as if being attacked, they could likely justify their decision to barge in. They might also try to do so if they hear a toilet flushing and think it means someone is disposing of evidence.

You allow them to enter

You are embarrassed about people seeing you with an officer at your door, so tell them they can come inside to continue the conversation. It’s typically not wise as if they see things while in there, they may be able to claim them as evidence.

Getting legal help to show that the police did not have grounds to enter could persuade a judge to refuse to admit any evidence they found when the police were in your house. That could help your defense immensely.