The police have a lot of authority, but their power has its limits. The police may not go wherever they want whenever they want. There are certain spaces, like a person’s home, that are so private that the police need special permission to enter.
While the police cannot simply enter your home because they want to, there are circumstances under which the police can enter without your permission. These circumstances tend to be few and far between, but they are certainly possible. Many instances in which the police can enter your home without your consent involve emergencies. If someone is in danger or the police are in hot pursuit of a dangerous suspect, they may enter your home if need be. Other times, they can get authority to enter from the courts, such as getting a search warrant. Even if you do not give the police permission to enter, another occupant of your home might.
If the police entered your home without your permission, there is a chance their entrance was unlawful. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge any evidence seized during this time. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.
When Can New Jersey Police Enter my Home Without Consent?
In general, the police must refrain from entering your home unless they have permission from you, another occupant, or a warrant. Even so, there are circumstances that allow the police to enter your house whether you want them to or not. If you believe the police entered your home unlawfully, you can contact our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for guidance.
Hot pursuit is when the police are actively chasing after a suspect. Many people think of hot pursuit as high-speed car chases. While this is certainly possible, it is not the only form of hot pursuit. It often occurs on foot, and a dangerous suspect may be running through a neighborhood. In fact, suspects often jump fences into back yards and even take shortcuts through people’s houses if the doors are unlocked.
Should a suspect fleeing the police attempt to hold up in your home, whether they live there or not, the police may enter the home without your permission to apprehend the suspect. If they happen to see some contraband laying out, like a weapon or controlled substances, they might try to seize the contraband and arrest you.
Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you protect yourself if your home is involved in hot pursuit. Even if the police officers’ entrance into your home was lawful, their behavior inside might not be. Hot pursuit does not necessarily allow the police to search your home for contraband. Contact our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys immediately if you believe an unlawful search occurred.
Another Occupant Consented
Even if you do not consent to the police entering your home, another occupant might. Many people are under the mistaken impression that only someone who owns a home can consent law enforcement to enter. On the contrary, almost anyone who lives in the house may consent.
Generally, this rule applies to adult occupants, not children. If you have young children living in your home, they probably cannot consent to the police entering and conducting a search.
Not only that, but consent may not cover every room in the house. For example, if several roommates share a home, one roommate may give law enforcement permission to search the home. The police may search common areas all the roommates have a right to use and any spaces the consenting roommate has control over. However, the private rooms of the non-consenting roommates might be off-limits because the consenting roommate has no right to those private spaces.
If someone you live with gave the police consent to enter your home, but the police ended up searching your private bedroom, this might be an overreach of police authority.
Search and Arrest Warrants
Warrants are the gold standard for police being allowed to enter someone’s home. A warrant gives the police permission to enter a private house, but the permission does not come from the occupant or owner. Instead, the permission comes from a judge.
Search warrants are only issued if there is probable cause supporting law enforcement’s claims that evidence of a crime exists in your home. Probable cause is a bit hard to pin down, but it is more than mere hunches or instincts. Probable cause must contain some articulable evidence that evidence of a crime can be found in your home. Without sufficient probable cause, a search warrant is invalid, and any evidence seized may be suppressed.
The police are required to specifically describe the areas to be searched in a warrant. If the entire house is to be searched, the police must explain why. Only places mentioned in the warrant can be searched. If the search warrant leaves out the shed in the backyard, the police should not search the shed.
Other Emergency or Exigent Circumstances
There may be various other emergency circumstances where the police have to get inside your house without your permission. For example, if there is a safety risk or someone is in danger, the police can enter your house without permission. A safety risk might be something like a violent crime currently in progress. The crime would likely be complete if the police waited to get a warrant, and someone might be seriously hurt.
Other exigent circumstances may include medical emergencies, such as a heart attack. The police might also enter without permission if they have good reason to believe evidence may be destroyed. If the police believe important evidence is at risk of being destroyed, they might be able to enter and seize it. Our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys can help you if the police entered your home without permission.
Call Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
If the police entered your home without permission, they need a very good reason to support their actions. If no good reason exists, their actions were unlawful, and you can challenge any evidence they seized. Call our South Jersey criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych immediately at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.