Unless you’re a hermit, it’s likely you’ve either attended or hosted at least one house party in your life. And, if it was too good of a party, you’ve heard the inevitable pounding on the door, followed by, “POLICE! THERE WAS A NOISE COMPLAINT. WE KNOW YOU’RE HOME. OPEN UP!” There is typically a hush that falls on the room followed by some mild panic and confusion as to what you are obligated to do moving forward.
You may be asking yourself whether you have to open the door. Can they break down the door if you don’t open it? Can you just talk to them through the door? Do you have to talk to them at all? The answer is NO.
Keep Your Door Shut!
If you open the door, police can claim they saw something illegal (probable cause) and push their way past you, gaining entry into your home. If they can’t see your hands, they can claim you had a gun and arrest you. They can interpret you opening your door as you granting them permission to enter.
Granted, the law is very strict about unreasonable home searches and any evidence obtained through a home search without a warrant can be presumptively unreasonable in court. However, this is not always the case and when you open the door, police are likely to get away with more and really push the boundaries of what constitutes an “unreasonable” search.
What to Do If Police Are At Your HouseWithout a Warrant
The best way to handle a warrantless police officer at your door is to politely say the following (if you choose to say anything at all):
- “Hello, I am choosing to remain silent. I do not have to provide my name and unless you have a warrant, I will not open the door”
- “My apologies, officer, but I am not answering questions today”
- “Thank you, but I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right”
- “I know my rights and I am choosing not to speak to you, officer”
Ultimately, you have the most protection inside your home, so stay put and remain quiet. You are not legally obligated to talk to the police, even through the door. If you do decide to address the officers, ask them if they have a warrant with them. Remember, police are legally allowed to lie to you. So, if they say they have a warrant and demand you open up, ask them to slide the warrant under the door or hold the warrant up to the window so that you can verify.
If you have been arrested in your home, it is important to immediately contact a Dallas criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights moving forward.
Mike Goolsby is a Texas criminal defense attorney who helps those who have been arrested in the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, McKinney and Denton areas. He has not lost a single case in more than 15 years.