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Written by Attorney Seth Morris


When the police knock on your door, you may feel pressure to open up and answer any questions they may have. However, anything you say to law enforcement officials can and will be used against you.

If police knock on your door, knowing your rights is the best way to empower yourself and prevent an illegal search.

What Are Your Rights When Police Knock on Your Door in California?

Law enforcement officials do not have the right to enter anyone’s home in the state of California unless they have a warrant. Citizens have the following rights:

Fourth Amendment Rights

Under the Fourth Amendment, you have the right to refuse consent for police to enter your home if they do not have an arrest or search warrant. This is true whether you are a renter or a homeowner.

Parents and Roommates

There are many situations in which law enforcement might knock on your door and tell you they need to speak with your roommate or child. You do not need to let them in when they make this request unless they have a warrant. If the police do not have a warrant, you can politely decline their entry into your home.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Should police ignore your refusal and conduct an illegal search without a warrant, any evidence they find will be considered inadmissible. Unless you explicitly allow police to enter your home, they are legally barred from doing so without a warrant.

What to Do When Police Ask to Enter Your Home

Several options may be available when police ask to enter your home. These include:

  • Declining to answer or open the door
  • Talking to police through a locked door
  • Exiting your home and meeting police outside

When Can Police Enter Your Home?

Law enforcement officials only have the authority to enter your home when they have a warrant. A warrant cannot be issued unless there is probable cause — this means police cannot take your DNA or search your home, car, or other property without it. Your right to privacy is protected under the Fourth Amendment.

If the police have a warrant to search your home or make an arrest, you must allow police into your home or make the intended arrest. Be sure to obtain a copy of the warrant to give to your criminal defense attorney.

Can Police Enter a Home Without a Warrant?

It is important to note some exceptions to these rules. For example, police may enter your home without a warrant if:

  • Police are hoping to prevent destruction of evidence that relates to an open investigation
  • They have probable cause, or illegal contraband is in plain view
  • You give police permission to search your home
  • The community is in danger

What Happens if Police Collect Evidence During an Illegal Search?

It is more common than you might think for law enforcement officials to illegally collect evidence during an unlawful search. If the court system finds the search illegal, any evidence seized during this search should not be used against you in criminal proceedings. This is commonly referred to as the exclusionary rule.

It should also be noted that any evidence derived from initial evidence obtained during an illegal search may also be considered inadmissible. This is commonly referred to as the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. Here, the fruit is the additional evidence obtained through the unlawful search, and the tree is the initial piece of evidence illegally obtained.

If you’re concerned that evidence may have been illegally obtained during an unlawful search in your case, share this with your criminal defense attorney.

Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If the police have knocked on your door, illegally obtained evidence, or conducted an illegal search, you may need a criminal defense attorney to help defend you if criminal charges are filed.

Reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Morris Law to protect yourself and your future. Contact our office by phone at 510-225-9955 or our secured online form to schedule your confidential consultation today.