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As we have in recent months, we want to continue empowering people to know their rights and understand how to conduct themselves during police interactions. One of the interactions that too many people get wrong is what to do when law enforcement comes knocking on your door.

When the knock comes, you shouldn’t panic. Instead, remain calm and consider the circumstances before proceeding. It’s important to know what your options and rights are in this situation to avoid putting your family, your home, or yourself at additional risk.

You don’t have to answer

The first and most important fact is that you are under no obligation to talk to the police at their request. When the police show up at your door just to “ask you some questions,” you don’t have to answer the door, you don’t have to tell them you’re not willing to talk – you don’t have to do anything. You don’t even have to tell them to go away.

Now, you are more than welcome to inform them you’re not interested in speaking to them. I would suggest you first inquire of them the nature of their visit. Why are they there? If they are answer you vaguely like “We are here just to ask you some questions” then keep the door closed and inquire further. The conversation you have with the police can potentially expose you to unnecessary risks such as providing evidence that, in their investigative mode, they might think implicates you in wrongdoing even if you are innocent. I suggest avoiding making any statements; instead try to find out what they are investigating. If they are unwilling to tell you details, you are within your rights to refuse to talk to them.

You have a Fourth Amendment right inside your home.

The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution (and Article I, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution) guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. It is not a meaningless right. It is within your rights to deny law enforcement entry into your home without a warrant. One way to protect your rights and comply with the police is to latch the door if you have a chain latch, open it slightly and talk with them without allowing them into your home. If you wish to talk to them do so from behind your door.

If the police have probable cause to arrest you but no warrant, they may want you to step outside your home to talk to them. Once outside they can arrest you without a warrant. If they have a warrant, you should always step outside the home to be arrested and close the door behind you. You should never welcome the police into your home during questioning because they can and will look for additional evidence as you move through your home. Even if they don’t have a warrant to search your home, they can still use their eyes to view anything that’s out in the open.

Contact an attorney

Members of law enforcement are trained in interrogation. They know how to get answers out of somebody even when their suspect is unaware of divulging things that may be detrimental to themselves. You should never assume you know more than the officers and never assume you “have nothing to hide,” even when innocent and having lawful reasons for actions. Once you are suspect, law enforcement officers generally are pursuing every statement you make in a manner to implicate you. Many false arrests and convictions happen every year based upon what people think are innocuous and harmless statements.

Your best bet is to refuse to answer any questions, ask what they are investigating, and ensure they’re unable to see inside of your home without a warrant. If the police are ever at your home to question you, the only person you should speak to immediately is an attorney. Even people who are “just trying to help” can find themselves in trouble.

Protect your freedom and preserve your future by contacting Malcolm Anthony, P.A. if the police come to your home. Your home should be a safe space for you and your family, so we can help keep it this way.



Jacksonville, FL Criminal Defense Attorney​​​​​​If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need the determination and experience of criminal defense attorney Malcolm Anthony on your side. As a Jacksonville area criminal defense attorney, I am a seasoned lawyer with a high success rate in criminal…

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