This morning at 3 AM I received a frantic phone call stating, “You gotta help me man…the cops are pounding on my door….what should I do?”If you are ever in this situation, here is what I suggest you do.
- BE CALM. TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, DO NOT ARGUE OR BE A SMART ASS WITH THE COPS. While some cops are professional and will deal with that response by you professionally, some will not and simply arrest you on obstructing/resisting charges (or do something worse) and execute the search.
2. GETTING INTO YOUR HOUSE. Cops can search your home only if they have a warrant or your consent. In your absence, the police can search your home based on the consent of your roommate or a guest if the police reasonably believe that person has the authority to consent.
3. DO POLICE HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT?If law enforcement officers knock on your door, instead of opening the door, ask through the door if they have a search warrant. A search warrant allows law enforcement officers to enter the place described in the warrant to look for and take items identified in the warrant. If the answer is no, do not let them into your home and do not answer any questions or say anything other than “I do not want to talk to you.” Police may say they can get a warrant based on your refusal. That is false. Law enforcement officers cannot get a warrant based on your refusal, nor can they punish you for refusing to give consent. REMEMBER: once you give your consent for a police search, they do not need to try to get the court’s permission to do the search. If the officers say that they do have a warrant, ask the officers to slip it under the door (or show it to you through a peephole, a window in your door, or a door that is open only enough to see the warrant). If you feel you must open the door, then step outside, close the door behind you and ask to see the warrant. Make sure the search warrant contains the judge’s name, your name and address, the date, place to be searched, a description of any items being searched for, and the name of the agency that is conducting the search or arrest. A search warrant that does not have your name on it may still be valid if it gives the correct address and description of the place the officers will be searching. Another type of warrant the police could have is an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant allows law enforcement officers to take you into custody. An arrest warrant alone does not give law enforcement officers the right to search your home (but they can look in places where you might be hiding and they can take evidence that is in plain sight), and a search warrant alone does not give them the right to arrest you (but they can arrest you if they find enough evidence to justify an arrest).
4. IMPROPER WARRANTLets say the search warrant you are shown does not contain the information specified above. What should you do? Try and deny the cops entry and search? NO! Again, in today’s world that may end up with you getting arrested or worse. Tell the officers that the warrant is not complete or not accurate, and you do not consent to the search, but you should not interfere if the officers decide to do the search even after you have told them they are mistaken. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. Take notes, including names, badge numbers, which agency each officer is from, where they searched and what they took. If others are present, have them act as witnesses to watch carefully what is happening.
5. QUESTIONING YOU BECAUSE POLICE HAVE A WARRANT Simply because police have a search or arrest warrant does not mean you must answer questions from the police. Again, do not be a smart ass, but respectfully decline to answer police questions. This is true even if the cops say it will go easier on you if you answer questions. More than likely, at this point, no it will not go easier on you: anything you say can and will be used against you to gain a conviction. Call your Attorney Paul Ksicinski 414-404-3393 as soon as possible.