For the most part, the Fourth Amendment should keep police out of your Houston home unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. Yet warrantless entry has happened, and Houston judges do have the ability to issue no-knock warrants.
Here’s what you need to know.
Exigent circumstances help police officers justify search or entry without a warrant. Valid exigent circumstances include:
- Protection of life.
- Protection of property that’s in immediate danger.
- Preventing the destruction of evidence.
- Pursuing a fleeing felon (but not a suspect who has allegedly committed a misdemeanor).
In short, police can generally enter when they believe some manner of crisis or emergency is taking place. Once the crisis is over, they are not permitted to keep searching. However, they can respond to evidence that’s in plain sight. This evidence may prompt them to make an arrest, or it may give them what they need to come back with a proper warrant later.
A no-knock warrant may only be issued with permission from a judge who agrees that the circumstances warrant the request. This is a legal warrant.
If the warrant is not a no-knock warrant police are required to knock on the door, announce themselves, and announce they have a warrant before they try to force entry into the property.
Search with Permission
Police may try to pressure you into letting them in to the home to conduct a search with permission. Never do this. Do not respond to the manipulative tactic that says you would let them in “if you have nothing to hide.”
There are too many ways for police officers to take advantage of their presence inside of your home. You may be innocent, and you may think there’s not one single illegal item in your home. This will not protect you if certain officers decide that you’re an easy target.
Some unscrupulous police officers have been known to plant evidence once they have access to a person’s home. Do not risk it.
Your Rights When Police are At Your Door
You do not have to let police officers into your home just because they knock. You can ask if they have a warrant and ask them to slide that warrant under the door. You don’t even have to step outside to talk to them.
If they do have a warrant, you have little choice but to let them in, but unless they have placed you in handcuffs you can and should call an attorney while they search.
If police don’t have a warrant, you can ask them to come back with one. Call a lawyer the moment they leave.
Get Help Today
If police come to your home, either with or without a warrant, then you’re in trouble, even if they didn’t arrest you on that visit. Make sure you form a relationship with a criminal defense lawyer who can protect you.
Contact our office to schedule a case review. We will protect your rights and use any violations of search and entry rights to help bring your case to its best possible outcome.
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