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What to Do If Police Raid Your House

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Your home is your castle. Only most houses don't come complete with a moat, drawbridge, and turrets. So it makes it easier for other people, including the police, to enter your home. Whether by force, by warrant, or by permission, police may ask to or just try to enter your house, and there are better and worse ways to handle it.

Here's what you need to know if police raid your home.

Police officers can only search your home under very specific circumstances. Either they must have a valid search warrant or one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement must exist. Those exceptions are if something illicit (like drugs or weapons) is in plain view, if you are being arrested in your home, if there is an emergency (including medical emergencies and hot pursuit), or if you give them permission.

If officers ask to search your home without a warrant, you do not need to consent. If you refuse consent and they search anyway, it's possible that whatever they find could be inadmissible in court later. Referred to as "fruit of the poisonous tree," evidence gained through an unreasonable or illegal search can be excluded from a criminal trial, as well as any evidence that would not have been discovered but for that impermissible search.

If police do have a warrant, if one of the noted exceptions exists, or if police try to search your home despite your refusal to grant consent, it's better to not obstruct, threaten, or assault officers performing the search. If the search turns out to be illegal, that will be decided at a later time, and confronting officers, verbally or physically, won't help in that determination. You should comply with the officers' directions and try to avoid escalating an already tense situation.

Officers serving a valid search warrant should give you a copy of that warrant, and you should have an attorney review it to make sure it's legitimate. You are not required to give police a statement, and if you are being arrested as part of the raid, you should affirmatively invoke your right to silence and ask to speak to an attorney.

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