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Police Entry Into Your Home

Under what circumstances can an officer enter your home? Since the inception of our democracy courts have tried to balance the desire of citizens for privacy in their lives and their property, and the job of police to investigate, to stop crime, and to protect the citizens. The courts have determined that your home should be afforded the utmost privacy in your home. This right is enshrined in the Fourth Amendment, which provides the right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, especially in their homes

As such, this requires officer to pass a high bar in order to make entry. In general, there are three different scenarios in which an officer may make entry into your home: if you consent to the entry; if an officer has a warrant; or if there are exigent circumstances that allow the entry.

Consent

If an officer knocks on your door you may choose to let him enter your home. This consent could be as simple as the officer asking if he may come in and you responding with a yes. Also, if you live with another person and they consent to the officer’s entrance they may also come in and view the common areas of the home as well. In a recent Supreme Court case, the justices held that if two people who occupy the same dwelling, and one gives consent while the other does not, the person not giving consent must be physically present at the location.

Warrant and Probable Cause

If an officer has probable cause to believe that a crime is occurring at a dwelling or that someone wanted for a crime is at a dwelling they may seek a warrant from a magistrate judge. This warrant requirement ensures that an unbiased person believes the officer has probable cause, a high bar to pass that is more than a suspicion, that a crime is being committed or someone wanted by the police is at a dwelling. Upon obtaining a warrant a police officer may search the area specified in the warrant for the things or person specified in the warrant. During the search, however, things in plain view of the officer can also be confiscated if they may be evidence of a crime. There are many nuances to the warrant requirement and the requisite probable cause needed to search a home.

Exigent Circumstances

Exigent circumstances exist when an officer without a warrant may enter into a home and no consent has been given. The Supreme Court has carved out several of these exceptions to the warrant requirement: When you are in hot pursuit of a fleeing felon; to prohibit the immediate destruction of evidence; to prevent a suspect from escaping; or to prevent imminent harm to police or third parties.

Criminal charges can be a scary thing, it is important to have an attorney on your side that understands the nuances of the law. At Simms Showers in Leesburg we are dedicated to fighting for you throughout Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Clarke, and Frederick Counties ensuring your case receives the individual attention it deserves.

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