No one wants to hear police knock on their door. If police arrive at your house, you need to know about your rights under Texas and federal law. If you don't know your rights, you may not assert them properly, which can increase your risk of criminal consequences.
For example, many people aren't sure about their rights when law enforcement officers arrive at their home and want to talk. They often ask to come inside and discuss something with you, but that is usually a tactic that allows them to conduct a cursory visual search for anything that will give them a reason to conduct a larger search.
It is common to wonder if you have to admit law enforcement to your home when they ask to come inside. Many people believe that once law enforcement officers make that kind of request, there is little choice. However, you do not have to grant entry into your home unless law enforcement officers have a compelling reason for you to do so.
Law enforcement officers generally need a warrant to enter your home
A warrant signed by a judge authorizes the search of a property. Police usually need some kind of compelling evidence or reasonable suspicion of a significant crime in order for a judge to grant them a warrant.
However, officers may try to talk their way into your front door without a warrant. While your manners may tell you to invite them inside, speaking with law enforcement outside is probably the best option.
If they ask to come inside, you can politely but firmly inform them that law enforcement can only enter your home with a warrant. They must then decide if the situation merits going through the process of obtaining a warrant and if they have adequate evidence to do so.
There are some situations where cops can come in without a warrant
Although most circumstances require a warrant for cops to gain entry into your home without your permission, there are certain circumstances in which cops may come inside even if you ask them not to. Generally, those circumstances involve the cops suspecting a crime in progress. That includes the destruction of evidence.
For example, if they smell, hear, or see something that indicates that criminal activity takes place in your home, they may be able to enter without a warrant. They can also enter your home if there are signs of someone in distress or if they pursue someone to your property from the scene of a crime.
If you believe that law enforcement entered your home illegally, that can potentially assist you in the development of a successful criminal defense strategy. Talking with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you determine if a search of your home violated your rights.