The relationship that many citizens have with the police is complicated. The police are supposed to serve the public, but they are also in a position of authority. This authority can lead to the idea that people have to do anything they say at any time.
For instance, you may be quietly watching television at your house when a police officer knocks on the door. They tell you that they want to come in, talk to you and take a look around the house. You look through the window beside the door and see a full two squad cars and four officers waiting outside.
It feels intimidating, right? Your instinct is to do what they say, hoping you can avoid trouble. If you deny them, you worry that they will force their way in and arrest you.
Legally, though, you don’t have to let them in. They can come in if it’s a clear emergency or they think a crime is happening, which is not the case in this example. They can come in if you let them, but that’s up to you and you can say no. They can also come in if they have a warrant.
If you deny them entry, they may tell you that they have a warrant. That’s fine. Ask them to see it. If they actually do, then they can enter regardless of your wishes. If they don’t, though, just politely ask them to come back with one before entering the house.
If you get arrested, especially if the police violate your rights to do it, you must understand your legal options. Don’t assume that you’re powerless against an overreach of the law, and don’t try to handle your case on your own.