Maybe you were having a party, things got a little loud and a neighbor called in a complaint. Or, you might have no idea why the police are at your door.
Either way, that knock is startling, and even more so to see a couple uniformed officers (or — even worse — a uniformed officer and a detective in plain clothes) outside.
Knowing your rights can protect you from a world of trouble
First, let’s be perfectly clear about this: Unless the police have a warrant in hand, you are under no obligation to open your door or talk to them.
Second, if you do decide to talk to the police, slip outside and shut and lock the door firmly behind you. Why? Because the police are very good at talking their way into a residence even when the person at the door would rather keep them outside. A closed door behind your back makes it much harder for the police to simply step inside as if they were invited.
Third, you’re also protecting yourself from what is known as the “plain view doctrine.” If the police see evidence of a crime in plain view as they peer through your doorway, they have the right to seize that evidence and arrest you (or whomever they suspect is guilty).
For example, imagine at loud party when police come to the door, you want to make a genuine effort to smooth things over. You open the door to chat and promise that you’ll keep the noise down in the future. While the door is open, the police spot the bag of marijuana on the table that your buddy brought. You can bet that someone — maybe you — is getting arrested.
What you can do after an arrest by police at your home
Don’t try to talk yourself out of the arrest, and don’t offer any additional information about how the drugs came to be in your home. It won’t help. Exercise your right to remain silent and call a defense attorney immediately to protect your interests.