Police officers help to enforce the law, and they help investigate potential breaches of the law. Enforcement activities might include arresting someone or intervening during a crime in progress. Investigation activities include questioning people, looking for evidence and analyzing the scene of a crime.
When officers show up at your front door, their goal is likely investigative. They will ask to speak with you in the hope of gaining some insight into the situation or getting you to say something that implicates yourself. As a secondary bonus, they can also gain entry into your home, which could help them build a criminal case by scanning the property for signs of criminal activity.
What should you do if the cops come knocking on your front door?
Knowing your rights now makes it easier when you need to stand up for them
You don’t want to Google your legal rights while the cops are right there in front of you. You need to know what your rights are so that if you find yourself in a difficult situation, you know how best to protect yourself.
You don’t have to speak with police officers at all if you believe that they want to build a case against you. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning even if you aren’t under arrest. You also have the right to remain silent and not tell officers anything.
Additionally, you don’t have to let them in your house even if they ask to come inside. If you do choose to speak with them, you can ask to do it down at the station with your lawyer present or out on the sidewalk. Once you let them into your house, if they find something they think is indicative of a crime, they can continue searching even without your permission. If they don’t have a warrant, they can’t demand entry into your home.
The police are almost never on your side during an investigation
Even if you are the victim of a criminal offense, police officers might suspect you of staging the crime in an attempt to commit fraud. Officers can seem friendly and try to convince you that they want to help you by eliminating you as a suspect or understanding your side of the situation.
Even seemingly innocuous details from a conversation inside your house could help the police build a criminal case against you. Knowing your rights and asserting them when they show up at your door can help protect you from criminal charges.
If you do wind up charged with a crime, especially if police violated your rights while building their case against you, you may need to consider how best to defend yourself in court.