Imagine for a second you are inside your home hosting a party when suddenly the cops knock at your door because of a noise complaint. In this situation, you may be tempted to open the door and let them in because you don’t want to get into trouble over obstruction of justice. However, what many people don’t understand is that you are not obligated to open your doors to the police if you don’t want to.
As you will see through this article, only in specific circumstances can the police enter your house to perform what is called a search and seizure. The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of John J. Zarych invite you to keep reading as we cover this important topic.
Can Cops Enter My House for a Noise Complaint?
Many people may wonder whether cops can enter their home because of a noise complaint or alleged disorderly conduct. A noise complaint from a neighbor or passerby can trigger a response from the police. This means they will likely show up to your place and knock at your door. Generally, cops will expect you to answer the door. Once you have responded to their call, they will likely ask you some questions related to the alleged disturbance.
As a private citizen, you have the right to either let them into your home or deny them access to your property. This right is born from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This legal principle states that a person has the right to protect themselves and their property against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement has the right to perform searches, seizures, arrests, and investigations in the pursuit of justice, but only as long as they do it legally.
If a police officer shows up at your door because of a noise complaint, he or she is not allowed to enter the premises. If they force their way into your home based on a suspicion or belief, they would be breaking the law and violating your rights as a private citizen.
For instance, a police officer cannot force entry because they believe (without any evidence) that there may be underage drinking or another type of juvenile crime taking place on your property. If a police officer wants to enter to perform a search, they need a judge-issued warrant explicitly intended for that purpose.
When Can a Cop Enter My Property?
Many people may not know police officers can enter into their homes even without a warrant. There are exceptions to the general rule requiring a permit to perform a search and seizure inside a property.
Consent is perhaps the most known type of exception to the warrant rule. For instance, imagine someone reports a noise complaint coming from your property. In response to the complaint, police officers show up at your door. If they ask to go inside and you let them, you have consented to a search and seizure.
In other words, you would have waived your constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. If the cops search and discover any illegal objects or substances, you will not be able to raise the argument that they entered your home without a warrant. Keep in mind that you are not obligated to open your door to police officers if they don’t carry a legal warrant.
There may be exigent circumstances that can give police officers the right to enter your home without a warrant. Exigent circumstances refer to extreme situations where a police officer reasonably believes that waiting to get an order to search a property would lead to the loss or destruction of evidence. In such circumstances, police officers are not required to have a warrant.
Probable cause can lead to a search and seizure without a warrant. For instance, if the police officers knock on your door because of a noise complaint and when you open the door, they see what seems to be minors consuming alcohol or they smell marijuana, that would be enough reason for them to act without having a warrant. Any illegal objects, substances, or other unlawful materials in plain view can lead to action from law enforcement.
Criminal Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations in New Jersey
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we have handled thousands of criminal cases through our many years of experience. Our knowledge, skill, and dedication have given us the necessary tools to aggressively and strategically defend your rights. If you or someone you know was a victim of an illegal search or seizure, we may be able to help.
If the police entered your property without a warrant, the evidence collected at that time could be deemed inadmissible in a court of law. Our experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can help you defend yourself against the actions of the police and preserve your constitutional rights. To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 445-3579.