Many people grow up with the idea that they must show respect to law enforcement and abide by their requests or demands at all times. A typical sentiment involves the idea that if you are not guilty, you should have nothing to hide.
But just how true is that? If, for example, an officer comes to your house without warning, should you always open the door for them?
When do you have to let police in?
Flex Your Rights discusses what you can do if police show up at your door unannounced. First, know that police cannot enter your home except under three specific circumstances. The first is if they have a warrant to search your house. The second is if they have reason to believe that they can stop a crime in progress by entering your home. Finally, they can enter if you allow them.
But you do not have to let them in if they do not have a warrant. In fact, you might not want to even if you have “nothing to hide”. Police can search as they please once you allow them into your home, and they can seize anything left out in the open and use it to paint you in an incriminating light, even if it does not belong to you.
What can you do instead?
Instead, consider speaking to them through the door or window. You can even meet them outside and close the door behind you, or leave to speak to them outside through a different door. If they insist on entering, politely but firmly explain your refusal. You can even ignore the door entirely. Unless police have a warrant, they cannot force you to answer the door or force their way inside.