In a majority of cases, you do not have to answer the door if police knock on your door in Maryland. Police will need a warrant to be able to legally enter and search your home in Maryland, which will be the result of suspicion for a crime you’ve committed. However, there are certain circumstances that allow them to legally enter and search your home without a warrant.
Know your rights so you can be well-prepared to deal with this situation if it ever happens to you. Read the rest of this article for more information about how to respond if police knock on your door. If you are ever in a situation in which police are trying to enter and search your home or property, get in touch with the Baltimore criminal defense attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras as soon as possible. Call (410) 694-7291 or read more on their webpage.
You Only Need to Answer the Door for Police If They Have a Warrant
American citizens’ right to privacy in their homes and on their properties is protected by the Fourth Amendment. This Amendment is intended to protect citizens’ “persons, houses, papers, and effects” against unreasonable searches and seizures. A search of a person’s home can only be done if the police have been issued a search warrant by a judge.
A judge will only issue a warrant for a search if police can prove probable cause for a search, which means that they are sure that they will find evidence of a crime by searching someone’s home or property. The warrant that a judge issues must specify the reason for probable cause, including information about the evidence that they intend to find and where they intend to find it during the search.
The key word in the protections offered by the Fourth Amendment is “reasonable.” All searches done by police must be considered to be reasonable, which means that they must provide reasons for the search. If police conduct a search that is later found to be unreasonable—meaning that they either went beyond the limitations of the warrant or conducted a search without having probable cause at all—then any evidence found during their search will be deemed inadmissible in court.
When Police Can Enter Your Home Without a Warrant
There are a few circumstances under which police are allowed to enter your home. The first is known as “exigent circumstances.” Exigent circumstances means that, given the circumstances, there isn’t time for police to go through the process of getting a search warrant from a judge. The three most common conditions that allow police to search a home without a warrant under exigent circumstances are as follows:
- Emergency aid – If police believe that someone within your home is in danger, then they are allowed to enter your home to assist them searching any areas they can see or areas near anyone they arrest. This is a common occurrence in cases involving domestic violence.
- Preservation of evidence – Police may enter your home without a warrant if they believe that there’s evidence in your home that you will destroy before they can come back with a warrant. This most commonly happens in cases that involve distribution of drugs, or if the suspect is suspected of possessing weapons or guns.
- Hot pursuit – Suspects that are running from police or trying to hide to get away from an arrest do not get a free pass by entering a home. Police can pursue a suspect into their own home or someone else’s home, and any evidence they find in plain view is admissible.
Another circumstance under which police are legally allowed to enter and search your home is if they see something incriminating inside. Anything that they see through your window, in your backyard, on your property, or through the door while you are outside talking to them is legally seized. If police officers see something that is illegal or may be used as evidence against you, they are able to go inside of your home and seize it. Alternatively, police might use that evidence to obtain a warrant, coming back later to complete a full search.
Of course, another way that police can enter your home without a warrant is if you give them permission to. Make sure that you are prepared with information about your rights regarding searches of your home and property before talking with police officers.
What to Do If Police Knock on Your Door in Maryland
If police knock on your door in the State of Maryland, the best thing you can do is speak calmly to them and tell them that they do not have consent to search your home. Tell them that you will need a lawyer before answering any more questions. The less you say to them, the better. However, if they do end up entering your home and arresting you, do not resist arrest. Go with them and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Maryland
If you are worried about law enforcement coming to your home or property for a search, then you should be aware of your rights in the situation. Keep an attorney’s contact information on hand in case you need it in the event of a police officer showing up at your front door. The attorneys at the Maryland Rice, Murtha & Psoras are available to talk at any time. Call us today at (410) 694-7291.