Advice Nerd

I’m back again, and I’ve got some good news. Someone took the initiative to write me an email and ask a question… a question that I actually found very challenging to answer. He writes:

“Hey Advice Nerd, I was wondering if you could help me out. I need to know how to dealwith police officers constantly invading my privacy. What rights as aUS citizen do I have, and what can I do in a situation where thepolice wish to enter my home?”

In order to have any coherent advice I had to go to many sources, ask tough questions, and browse several boring websites that drone on and on about the law. I can only imagine why someone would ask this question, and I can guess it has something to do with illegal activity of some kind. Now, I wouldn’t assume this-this individual could just be uncomfortable with the police entering his home. I know I certainly would be, so this subject was of great interest to me for personal reasons as well as professional.

Know your rights…The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It is essential for every citizen of this country to know and understand their constitutional rights. If you don’t know your rights, you are subject to the potential abuse of the government. As a citizen it is your responsibility to exercise control over the powers that exist to serve you, not control you. With knowledge comes power.

The Fourth Amendment states that no search or seizure can be done of your home or possessions unless stated specifically by a warrant. A warrant must be issued by a Judge, and only if there is probable cause (a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime) or strong suspicion on the part of the police. Basically, unless you’re doing something illegal in public domain to suggest that there’s more illegal activity occurring in your house, the police will most likely leave you alone.

Ask for documentation…Always ask to see badges, credentials, or any other documentation identifying the person or persons attempting to enter your house as police officers. If they are officers, ask if they have a warrant. If they have a warrant, ask to see it. The police must present a warrant to legally search your home, luggage, or person. If they do not have a warrant, you have the right under the Fourth Amendment to refuse, and if they enter your home without permission you should verbally acknowledge the fact that you do not consent to the search and that you are protected under the Fourth Amendment. Those of you who happen to practice not-so-legal activities will rest a little easier knowing that evidence collected without a search warrant will most likely be thrown out of court.

Refuse…Let me reiterate. If the police have a warrant, there’s nothing you can really do to stop them from searching your home. If they don’t have a warrant, you can refuse to allow them entry. Police have a tendency to assert their authority in particularly forceful ways when they suspect you of something, and they will attempt to force you into giving them permission to enter your home (especially if they don’t have enough evidence against you to get a warrant). As long as you stick to your guns and cite the Fourth Amendment, you are in the clear as far as the courts are concerned.

Hide anything (unsavory)…Hypothetical scenario: A police officer knocks on your door while you’re in the middle of using an illegal substance. You open the door with the illegal substance in full view of the officer. The policeman now has probable cause to search your home, search your person, seize your possessions or seize you, as long as he thinks you were doing something illegal.

This all could have been avoided if you would have kept your illegal substances hidden from plain sight. If you don’t want your home searched, hide the drugs.

I hope you’re satisfied with my answer. I understand that much of what I talked about had to do with dealing with police when it comes to illegal activity, but whether you are involved in illegal activity or not doesn’t matter. Privacy is privacy, and in this country you have a right to it. If you don’t exercise your rights, they’re bound to be taken from you.

If you want my advice, you can email your question to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to give you my best answer.