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People who resist police officers engaged in illegal acts tend to be arrested for frivolous charges—which still causes the citizen to incur legal fees to mount a defense—or are even subject to police brutality. For example, if police officers put handcuffs on too tight for as little as ten minutes, one’s wrists can be permanently injured or need invasive and painful neurosurgery. The risks are great and the reward is minimal in physically confronting a law enforcement official over whether or not he can enter one’s house without a warrant or exigent circumstances.

The best thing to do is to respectfully inform the police officer that they do not have permission to enter the house, but that you will not physically resist them. This way, if the police officer finds anything during their unlawful search, it would almost certainly be suppressed from evidence as a Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment violation.

You should also record video or audio of the encounter, if able. This evidence could be used in subsequent legal proceedings. During the encounter, ask the officers present for their names and badge numbers. If you see their squad car, try to ascertain its identification number. Immediately after the encounter, write a detailed description of what happened and what you learned; memories fade quickly.

If the police or any other governmental actor violates a person’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the police officers, the police department, and possibly the government can be civilly sued via 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or through state-specific causes of action.

Physically resisting a police officer is likely to result in property destruction or seizure, injury, death, or arrest of the citizen. Long ago are the days of Barney Fife.

Steve Wells
Steven M. Wells, P.C.
425 “G” St. Ste. 600, Anchorage, AK 99501
907-279-3557
http://www.alaskalegaldefense.com
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The answer to that question is heavily fact-specific. As a general rule, before police can enter a home, they need a warrant. However, there are numerous exceptions to that general rule. Police do not need a warrant, for example, if you consent to their entry or if they are in hot pursuit of a potential criminal. This list of exceptions is not exhaustive but only gives a flavor of some of the exceptions.

Because this is such a fact-specific question, I would hesitate to give specific advice. I would say, though, that as a general rule you can demand police show a warrant before allowing them entry into your home. Police can approach your front door and knock in an effort to talk to the occupants. Even if you open the door, you do not have to let them into the house.

However, if you open the door and they can see contraband, such as a firearm that may be banned in your particular jurisdiction, police generally can enter the home to seize the contraband because it was in “plain view.”

If I found myself in a situation such as happened after the Boston Marathon attack, I would make sure I had at least an audio recorder of some type prior to any encounter with the police.

Video would be better. I would demand proof of a warrant before opening the door or talking to the police. If I was told that police were coming in anyway, I would ensure that there was nothing visible that might be construed as contraband or otherwise of interest to law enforcement. This could be firearms, reading material, whatever.

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