It’s a moment that can inspire fear and dread in anyone-including law-abiding citizens. Police officers or federal agents from the FBI can knock on your door, unannounced, at any time. They may or may not have a search or arrest warrant in hand. They could be there to search your home, make an arrest, or simply chat with you. But what should you do to protect yourself and your family in these circumstances?
As an initial matter, keep in mind that law enforcement officials are allowed to knock on your door just to ask to speak with you, a family member, or a roommate. They have no obligation to have a warrant to “chat” and question. Increasingly, law enforcement does this at very early morning hours or late at night to catch people off guard and without access to counsel. However, you are not required to speak with them, and you have legal rights that you may assert to protect yourself.
Find Out Who Is at the Door
You have the right to confirm the identities of the officers by asking to see their credentials. Additionally, you should ask for their business cards so you have a record of who paid you a visit.
Ask If They Have a Warrant
If they have a search warrant, for example, you are obligated by law to allow them to search within the parameters of the warrant. You should not do anything to interfere with the search because doing so may result in a charge of obstruction of justice or similar charges.
Likewise, if they have an arrest warrant, you should not do anything to interfere with their execution of the warrant. Continue reading