You may have heard that you do not have to let the police into your house if they don’t have a warrant. If they enter without one, then any evidence they collect after the fact can be thrown out of court because it was illegally collected. Is this true?
In most cases, it is. The chain that is typically followed is that the police find reasonable suspicion that a search is needed — such as evidence found in a trash can — and they show it to a judge. The judge decides if the evidence is valid and then issues a search warrant. With the warrant, the police will come to your home and (generally) knock on the door and ask to enter. If they are refused, they will show you the warrant and you have to let them enter.
However, there are extreme circumstances that may lead to a search without a warrant. One is if the police have an urgent reason to enter, such as hearing someone fire a gun inside the house. They don’t have to leave, get a warrant and return. They can enter on the grounds that there is reasonable suspicion to believe that A) a crime is happening and B) someone may be in danger. They can also do this when in hot pursuit of a suspect who runs into a building.
Another exception to the rule about warrants is when they ask you for consent to enter a home and you give it to them. You’re not obligated to agree to let them in. If you do so, it doesn’t matter if they don’t have a warrant.
It is very important to know your rights and legal options when accused of a crime or arrested after a search. An experienced defense attorney can help.