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Alaska police are knocking. Must you let them in?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2020 | Uncategorized

When you’re at home during the evening or middle of the night and hear an unexpected knock at your door, it can be quite startling, especially if the knock is more of a rapping or pounding than a quiet tapping sound. The sudden noise can cause your heart to beat to faster before you even know who is on the other side of the door. If you look through a peephole or curtain and see uniformed Alaska police officers, you might feel even more nervous.

The question is whether you must open the door or allow police officers to enter your home if you did not extend an invitation for them to do so. The answer is that there is no definite answer because it all depends on the circumstances of a specific situation. This is why it pays to know your rights and how to exercise and protect them.

A signed search warrant is a key factor

While there are no laws stating that you must open your door when someone knocks on it, if you do open your door and find police on the other side of it, you can shut your door behind you and step outside to speak with them if you like. However, if Alaska police show you a validly signed warrant to search your home, then you are legally obligated to allow them to enter.

If they tell you they would like to come inside and take a look around, you may request to see a signed warrant and tell them you do not consent to them entering your home if they do not have such a warrant.

Exceptions to the rule

It’s important to remember that there are issues that may arise under which police officers can enter your home without a warrant. For instance, if they say they have reason to believe someone on the inside is in danger, they would not necessarily be violating your personal rights if they go into your house without consent. Also, if someone inside a home discharges a firearm, then police may take action and enter the residence in question. These and other issues may be grounds for entering without a signed search warrant.

If you allow police to enter your home

If you grant a police officer’s request to enter your home, you may wind up in an even more stressful situation later, especially if they claim to find illegal substances inside your house or say they are taking you into custody for some other reason.

As a suspect in a police investigation or a defendant facing criminal charges in Alaska, you still have rights. For instance, if police start demanding answers to questions, you may invoke your right to remain silent and request the presence of legal representation. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects this right. When accused of a crime, you are guaranteed the opportunity to refute the charges against you.