The police are at my door! What Should I Do?
Your rights and how to reduce risk to yourself
- You should not invite the officer into your house. Talk with the officers through the door and ask them to show you identification. You do not have to let them in unless they can show you a warrant signed by a judicial officer that lists your address as a place to be searched or that has your name on it as the subject of an arrest warrant .
- Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can read it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant has the name of the person to be arrested.
- Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. You should not answer questions or speak to the officers while they are in your house conducting their search. Stand silently and observe what they do, where they go, and what they take. Write down everything you observed as soon as you can.
When your rights have been violated
- Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses.
- File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
How to be a responsible bystander
- If you are a guest inside the house and end up answering the door, you should make clear to the police that you are a guest and do not have the authority to let them inside without the homeowner’s permission.
If you need more information, contact your local ACLU affiliate.