Can A Cop Enter My Home Without A Warrant?
Generally, no. The idea that a “man’s house is his castle” is a centuries old principle that has been honored by the United States Supreme Court since the birth of the nation.
Indeed, one’s home holds a special place in constitutional law as representing a space of privacy that is beyond the reach of the government. That is why the Supreme Court has been clear that a “basic principle of Fourth Amendment law is that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.”
Yet, even when it comes to a person’s home, there are times when the police are allowed to enter without a warrant. As you will see, the reasons for such intrusions typically come from the exceptions to the warrant requirement that we have discussed earlier.
- Flight from a Felony
If the police witness you commit a felony such as buying or selling drugs and you run from them (i.e., take flight) into your home, then the cops are permitted to follow you into your home. Even though your home is your castle, your home is not a safe harbor.
- Plain View
If the police come to your door and see drugs in the home when the door is open, then they may enter without a warrant. This might come up in a situation where the police have been called to the house for some issue unrelated to drugs, such as a noise complaint or a domestic situation.
If you, or someone else who has dominion and control over the residence, allow cops to come into the house when they come to your door, then you have consented to the police being in your home. If you know there are drugs in your home, do not let the police just walk in and charge you. Politely let them know that they will need to get a warrant.
- Exigent circumstances
If the police are surveilling your home and, through an open window, they see someone flushing drugs down the toilet, they can enter the home based on exigent circumstances.
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