Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: When can the police enter my home ( No Answer,   14 Comments )
Subject: When can the police enter my home
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: dwf-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 27 Jul 2004 02:28 PDT
Expires: 26 Aug 2004 02:28 PDT
Question ID: 379561
when may the police legally enter my home?  If my wife and I are
arguing over business late at night, and our neighbor calls the
police, and they come and pound on the door, am I required to open it
for them to search the apartment.  no call for help has been made from
inside the apartmnet.  we are just a couple fighting due to stress, do
the poice have the right to enter my home and interogate us about
this? It is terrifying.  Can I legally refuse to open the door?

Request for Question Clarification by easterangel-ga on 27 Jul 2004 03:03 PDT

In what state do you live?

Clarification of Question by dwf-ga on 27 Jul 2004 09:32 PDT
I live in California in a neighborhood with tons of apartments.  I
keep the windows open at night and work out of my home.  last night my
wife and I were loudly arguing, yelling and fighting (verbally) over a
business concern.  The police suddenly showed up pounding on the door.
 I opened the door and we were separated and interogated.  All this
simply because we were yelling!  I don't want to disturb others, nor
fight with my wife.  But my question is, if someone else calls the
police for a noise disturbance, do I by law, have to open the do and
allow the police in my home?.  They had no search warrant.  There is
no call from inside the home.  What are my rights?   Last night they
threatened to have me arrested if they came out again.  For what?
Yelling?  When I lived in San Francisco years ago, my neighbors
partied all night long on coke keeping our entire house awake until
dawn, the police could have cared less.  Has the law changed?  Can I
refuse to open the door if they don't have a search warrant?  Can I be
arrested for yelling in my own home?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: neilzero-ga on 27 Jul 2004 05:23 PDT
In my humble opinion, You can ask to see their search warrent. Even if
they produce a search warrent, you can say " how can I know this is a
real search warrent? How can I know you are real police? Fakes are
easy, cheap, and far beyond my ability to identify." If you and your
signifcant other are reasonably composed, and appear undamaged; The
police will typically leave after writing each of you tickets
requiring a court appearance. Is that better than letting them in and
having the matter settled in a few minutes?  Neil
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: dwf-ga on 27 Jul 2004 09:32 PDT
This is a situation where there is not search warrant.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: dr_bob-ga on 27 Jul 2004 10:52 PDT
First, I'm not a lawyer.  This comment was free, and it's not legal
advice.  It is merely a comment of humble opinion from an otherwise
deranged lunatic who patrols google answers with nothing constructive
to do.

I believe, police may enter your home if they have a reasonable
suspicion that a crime has been, or is being committed, or they have
reason to believe the safety of the occupants of your apartment were
in danger.

It is likely that the nature of the call they received met their
reasonable suspicion.  Would it hold up in court?  You would have to
take your case to court and find out.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: tutuzdad-ga on 27 Jul 2004 11:00 PDT
You are right Bob. The legal issue giving authority here is called
"exigent circumstances". As a member of law enforcement myself I am
quite familiar with it but I didn't elaborate on it because, frankly,
it's much more complicated than time allows. Neilzero's comment on the
other hand is utter nonsense as usual.

Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: pinkfreud-ga on 27 Jul 2004 11:04 PDT
I doubt that the noise factor of the yelling was of great concern to
the police officers. They wanted to enter the premises to make certain
that no one was being injured. While you may view your domestic
disputes as a private matter, if these fights have become so loud that
the neighbors can hear them, the privacy factor isn't there anymore.
It is the duty of the police to intervene if there is a suspicion that
someone is being harmed or is likely to be harmed.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: dwf-ga on 27 Jul 2004 12:05 PDT
Again, I am looking for a clear answer.  If an argument is occuring. 
And the neighbors call to report it.  Am I legally obligated to open
the door to the police.  If so why?  I understand if someone makes a
911 call from within the house.  The law I saw said the police may
enter if someone is yelling for help.  This was not the case.  We were
arguing loudly over a business concern.  I understand that they may
call to ask us to shut up, or issue a citiation for disturbance.  But
do I have to open the door to them and consent to a search?  What
happens if I don't?
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: dr_bob-ga on 27 Jul 2004 12:24 PDT
The answer is, there is no clear answer to determine what a police
officer was thinking when he went to your home in the middle of the

I will tell you, that in general it is usually not a good idea to play
"lets make a deal" when a peace officer tells you to do something.

The peace officer, upon arriving at your door must make sure that
everyone in your apartment was safe, including himself and the people
in the immediate vicinity.  Denial of the fact that there was a
disturbance at your home does not mean that the people inside are
safe.  Bad guys lie to the police all the time.

If I was the peace officer at your property and you said "Sorry, you
can't come in!", I would say, "I have reason to believe that persons
in your home are in danger, and I am going to enter!"  What are you
going to do now?  Call a lawyer? Hide the body?  Get a gun? Did we
really need to have this conversation?

The discussion was over when the police arrived at your home.  They
have an obligation to protect the public.  That means you, your wife,
and whoever might be in your apartment(that they can't see!), and if
meeting that obligation means entering your home after a domestic
dispute, then so be it.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: dr_bob-ga on 27 Jul 2004 12:32 PDT
And lastly,,,

You could very well be arrested for disturbing the peace.  It's quite
simple.  You don't have the right to disturb everyone elses peace and
quiet with your domestic squabbles. If they need to take action(arrest
you) in order to enforce the law, enjoy your trip in the squad car
because you'll be hanging out in a holding cell with a bunch of guys
named Bubba who don't take to kindly to guys who yell at their wives.

Let it go, dood. <----I can say this because I'm a lowly commenter who
has nothing else better to do.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: pinkfreud-ga on 27 Jul 2004 12:35 PDT
"...the United States Supreme Court has crafted a few carefully drawn
exceptions to the warrant requirement to cover situations where 'the
public interest require[s] some flexibility in the application of the
general rule that a valid warrant is a prerequisite for a search.'
Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 753, 759, 99 S. Ct. 2586, 2590 (1979).
One such exception is that the police may enter a private premises and
conduct a search if 'exigent circumstances' mandate immediate action.
See Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 509, 98 S. Ct. 1942, 1949-50

The exigent circumstances exception recognizes a 'warrantless entry by
criminal law enforcement officials may be legal when there is
compelling need for official action and no time to secure a warrant.'
Michigan, 436 U.S. at 509, 98 S. Ct. at 1949. The exception
encompasses several common situations where resort to a magistrate for
a search warrant is not feasible or advisable, including: danger of
flight or escape, loss or destruction of evidence, risk of harm to the
public or the police, mobility of a vehicle, and hot pursuit."
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: neilzero-ga on 28 Jul 2004 04:48 PDT
Hi pinkfruud, It appears our freedom from search or seizure is worth
little. One of those excuses has some chance of validity in every
situation. I presume many fewer search warrants are issued to
uniformed police than in past decades.
 The documents that phoney police can produce would likely fool the
average judge. Do you think that 1% of the police entries into private
homes are phoney police? I still think there is a slight chance the
police will not enter your home if you appear to have normal concerns
about whether they are real police, but I admit to zero first hand
experiece. Would it be reasonable to talk to the police dispatcher on
the phone before inviting the police into your home?
 The final comment by Tutuzdad regarding my comment suggests the
police do not even want us to think about how we might discourage
police from entering our homes. Can you think of other comments of
mine that deserve his "as usual" Please tell me if I am out of line on We all are impressed with your opinion.   Neil
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: daytrader76-ga on 28 Jul 2004 07:32 PDT
"Am I legally obligated to open the door to the police."


If the police have a warrant, they will knock the door down.  Without
a warrant, they will only break the door down if they see you beating
her through a window, or if she is shouting, "Help me!  He's going to
kill me!"  But if she shares your interest in avoiding the police -
and she should, then just be quiet and the cops will go away.  Within
your home, you have full legal right to ignore the cop.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: mother911-ga on 28 Jul 2004 08:37 PDT
Hi dwf-ga,

I found an article regarding anonymous phone calls and police entry.

The basis of the article is that the phone call in and of itself is
not enough reason to enter the residence. I would imagine though, as a
married man who may have argued once or twice, that if they pulled up
and overheard the conversation from the street, they would justifiable
reason to request entry to insure the safety of the other occupants of
the home.

I'm basing this on the comment in the article:
"The courts will examine exactly what information is conveyed by an
anonymous call in determining whether the police had reasonable
grounds to believe that there was an emergency requiring immediate

That leads me to believe that if there was reasonable grounds to
assume there was a domestic violence in progress, or if in fact they
feel someone in the house is being threatened and or physically
injured, they have the right to demand entry.

Personal opinion, no matter how heated up you are, when the boys in
blue arrive and want to look in and make sure no one is currently
injured or being detained against their will, let them in, let them
know you were having a screamer, and let them look around. Most likely
they will just tell you to keep it down, unless of course someone is
bandaged and newly bruised. Some states do allow (or used to recently)
officers to determine someone has been attacked and remove individuals
they believe were involved.

Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: tresea-ga on 08 Aug 2004 06:49 PDT
I add this comment on the anniversary of the day (17 years ago) that i
became aware of MY constitutional rights, as was set forth by the
founding fathers of this free country we live in, and the complete and
utter disregard of those constitutional rights by law enforcement, and
the misconception they are here to "serve and protect" us.

On 8/8/88 the police apparently recd a call of a 'domestic
disturbance' ((the stero was too loud- and me and my boyfriend were
having a heated discussion over the music))when the police came to the
door of our 2nd floor apartment- to investigate, the music was turned
downed. WITHOUT opening the door- we BOTH apologized for the
disturbance. The officers insisted they needed to see me, to be
certain that i was not harmed- so i went to the BIG picture window and
spoke to the officers--eplaining i was fine....and they could SEE that
i was fine...

no- they wanted to come in and talk to me...why--im right here 2 feet
from you and you can see im alright. They kept insisting that we let
them in. and we refused. The office were told ((numerous times) ) "Do
not come thru that door in violation of my constitutional rights,
because i have the right to bear arms and the right to proctect my

Of course the situation escalated at this point. Nine hours later we
discovered the 'degree' to which it had escaladed- as we were both
awaken by a concushion granade being thrown into the apartment, the
front door being kicked in by the local SWAT team, carrying automatic
weapons, handcuffing the both of us in the bedroom, and physically
removing us from the apartment.

There wasnt so much as ONE charge against either of law
broken! Simply 2 people who refused to have their contitutional rights

SO --to answer your question....if you OPEN the door- the police have
the right to enter. Its your choice. You simply need to be prepared to
defend your constitutional rights and personal freedom, as well as
accept the consequences.
Subject: Re: When can the police enter my home
From: ephraim-ga on 08 Aug 2004 09:44 PDT
tresea-ga commented:

"The office were told ((numerous times) ) "Do
not come thru that door in violation of my constitutional rights,
because i have the right to bear arms and the right to proctect my

May I suggest -- regardless of circumstances -- that threatening a
police officer with bodily harm or death is probably one of the
DUMBEST things a person can do during a disagreement with the police?
These people are armed and trained how to use weapons. They can call
for backup and have dozens more armed officers at your door within
minutes. Were you seriously willing to go down in a hail of bullets?

The courts are there for your use to defend your constitutional
rights. While you may very well have been within your rights to refuse
them entry to your home (and not knowing the exact circumstances or
the law, I won't guess about who was right in this case), I think it
was highly stupid to threaten the police. If you're really concerned
about your constitutional rights, then learn how to document what's
happening as it happens, and present it in a courtroom later, when
nobody is feeling physically threatened. If a jury agrees with you,
then you can probably sue their collective behinds for $$$ later.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy