I would let law enforcement in but I would clearly state for the recording that I oppose a warrantless intrusion into my home and that police have no probable cause to believe that a terrorist or wanted suspect is in my particular home. If they were decent and respectful, I would probably let it go. If they were jerks and damaged my home or inflicted any injuries upon me, I would probably file a civil suit against them. If they did seize anything that they claimed was illegal and filed charges, I would seek to have it suppressed because the seizure violated the right against unreasonable search and seizure.
The Fourth Amendment is not a “technicality.” We have to assert our rights in order to keep them and unfortunately, both sides of the political fence favor some rights over others. Such a divide and conquer mentality ultimately erodes all of our rights.
Jon H. Gutmacher, Esq.
Jon H. Gutmacher, P.A.
2431 Aloma Ave., Ste. 124, Winter Park, FL 32792
Your question is whether citizens have a right to deny law enforcement the right to enter their homes in an emergency situation such as the Boston bombing. My answer, rather than a technical one is a practical one. While a citizen may in most instances lawfully deny permission for police to enter without a warrant, they generally have no right to “prevent” the police from doing so against their wishes, if the officer persists.
Therefore, if an officer asked for permission, you could lawfully say something to the effect of “I absolutely refuse–but I will not try to stop you if you do so against my wishes.” In such a case, your refusal must be made clear, and any cooperation should be prefaced with, “I will obey your directions as long as you understand it is done purely in obedience to your orders, and not with my permission.”
This will preserve any constitutional rights you may have that are being violated, assuming a violation is actually happening. Also by making clear you will obey any directions (although against your will), you will avoid any possibility of an obstruction of justice charge, assuming the search is legal.
On the other hand, if the situation is truly an “emergency,” then maybe your cooperation is not the worst thing you could do. It might save your life or somebody else’s. It's kind of a “weighing” factor. Maybe you’re a hostage? Maybe the guy is hiding in your basement or attic and even you don’t know about it. Maybe they left a bomb under your car?
The idea is if it seems legit, you have the constitutional right to waive your constitutional rights for the good of yourself and the rest of society. But either way, don’t interfere with them. They’re gonna do whatever they’re gonna do, with or without your permission. Your job is simply to decide if you want to cooperate or decide how to protect your rights without getting in trouble if you’d rather not. Hopefully this little “practical” advice will help in how to make those decisions. Certainly, you’re not an attorney and should not have to make a legal decision on the spot whether the officer is acting constitutionally or not. That might even be difficult for a lawyer, without research and some background information.