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Do you know when police can legally enter your home?

Police officers in New Jersey must abide by certain rules when performing their jobs. It is particularly important that they behave in a manner that supports and upholds the rights of the individuals they interact with in a professional capacity.

Knowing your rights can help you stand up for yourself in situations with law enforcement. This is certainly true when police want to gain access to search your home. Don't get tricked into waiving your rights or letting law enforcement violate them.

Law enforcement can enter and search with a valid warrant

When police already have some kind of probable cause or evidence tying you, your home or someone else who lives with you to a crime, they can ask a judge to sign a warrant. Once a judge reviews the reason for and scope of the search warrant, he or she will choose whether or not to sign it.

If a judge approves a warrant, law enforcement can enter your home and search for certain items or in certain spaces for evidence of a crime. While you cannot stop law enforcement from executing a valid search warrant, you can always take the time to ensure the warrant is actually valid. Check the address and make sure it has been signed by a judge.

Letting police into your home can result in a thorough search

When law enforcement officers show up at your home, they will try to gain your permission to enter. Your desire to be a good neighbor and host will often compel you to invite them inside. You may think that inviting police into your home shows you have nothing to hide. However, once they are inside, they can start looking for any excuse to continue searching.

If you let police in your home, they will look all over the space, trying to find evidence of a crime. One might ask to go to the bathroom, allowing him or her to view more of your home on the way.

Finding anything that indicates illegal activity typically provides probable cause for law enforcement to search an area. Anything that looks like drug paraphernalia or a weapon could result in a more thorough search.

Signs of a crime in progress allow police to immediately enter

If a cop is nearby and hears someone scream or hears a gunshot, he or she can enter the property where the sound seems to have originated from. If law enforcement attempts to engage with someone through a door, perhaps to serve a warrant or locate a person, sounds of a potential crime can provide probable cause for forcible entry into the home.

Believe it or not, even typical household sounds like a toilet flushing, garbage disposal running or paper shredder working could be grounds for breaking down your door. Any noise that could be an attempt to destroy evidence could provide police with a reason to enter your home without permission or a warrant. Knowing that can help you avoid an escalating and legally dangerous situation.

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