Handling a knock on your door by the police
Consider this scenario: You’re having a party, and things get a little loud. The neighbors in another apartment don’t appreciate your music and the laughter from your guests. The neighbors call the police. The next thing you know, there’s a knock on your door and two uniformed officers are standing outside.
Before you open the door, make sure you know your rights. Here’s what to keep in mind:
It doesn’t hurt to be polite. You may be able to avoid a lot of unpleasantness if you remain calm and cordial, even while asserting your rights.
You don’t have to give the police permission to enter. Unless they have a warrant, you generally don’t have to allow the police to enter your residence. However, that won’t stop them from asking for permission. They may say something like, “We received a complaint about the noise. Can we come in?” or “Do you mind if we see if everyone inside is okay?” Again, you do not have to let them in if they don’t have a warrant or other reason to believe a crime has been committed. Rather than letting them in, you can step outside and close the door behind you to speak with them.
It’s generally better not to give the police a view inside your residence. If the police see something that looks like it might be illegal — like supposed drug paraphernalia that’s visible from the door — they generally do not need a warrant or your permission to enter. However, whether the police actually saw something illegal is often questionable in criminal cases. Again, to protect your own rights, you can step outside and close the door behind you.
Exercise your right not to say anything that is self-incriminating. If the police ask you questions that you’re uncomfortable answering, you can exercise your right not to answer without the advice of your attorney. Again, try to be polite when declining to answer questions by police, and let them know that you’d prefer to have legal counsel before answering questions.
If your party does turn into a nightmare and you end up arrested, take immediate steps to protect your rights and future. For more on that, please see our overviews of drug charges and violent crime charges. At the Law Offices of Scott N. Richardson, we represent clients throughout Palm Beach County.