You do not want the police to enter your home for any reason. Maybe you haven’t even done anything wrong, but it simply makes you nervous to have them in your house. They knock on the door and ask to come in, but you deny their request and ask why they’re arrived in the first place.
If the police had a warrant, they wouldn’t need your consent. The example above is actually the first reason that officers can enter a home without a warrant: If they ask the homeowner or someone else who lives in the residence and they get permission. This can get complicated in some situations, such as if you live with a roommate who gives the police permission to enter, even though you did not.
But are there any other reasons that they can come inside without a warrant? What would this look like?
Emergency situations and fast responses
Generally speaking, without a warrant or consent, the police would need some sort of an emergency. They can then claim that a fast response was necessary and there was no time to get a warrant. They simply had to act.
For example, maybe they believe you are actively destroying evidence inside the house. They may be allowed to come inside to preserve that evidence. They could also believe that a crime is in process or even that someone inside the home is in imminent danger.
Or, perhaps the officers were following someone in their vehicle after an attempted traffic stop. If they’re in hot pursuit of a subject and that person gets out of their car and runs into a residence, the police are allowed to follow them inside.
If the police do come inside without a warrant, they may need to show why when they get to court, to prove they didn’t violate your rights. But they can do that after the fact, rather than getting a warrant first.
What are your options?
Unfortunately, the police will sometimes enter your home without permission and without any of the reasons discussed above, which could be a violation of your rights under the Fourth Amendment. Make sure that you know about all the legal options you have.