When the police arrive at your door with a search warrant, knowing what your rights are and how to protect yourself can improve the outcome of the search. During a search, it is essential to remain calm and collected. Otherwise, a person may receive charges for tampering with evidence or impeding an investigation.
Tampering with evidence can result in up to a year in jail, or 20 years in prison. You can take steps to help yourself get through a search safely while also protecting your best interest.
Confirm the warrant
It is not enough for officers to say they have a warrant; they need to have the document. Once you verify the police have a legitimate warrant, let them in. Resisting a search only makes matters worse, so be sure to allow police to do their job.
Stay or go
If you do not want to be present for the search, you cannot simply walk away. First, confirm with the police that they are not detaining you. If they are not, confirm with them that you are leaving. Police may want to search your person before letting you go.
If you decide to stay, you have the right to record everything. Do not interfere with the search in any way, but instead record as much of the search as possible. Your recordings may prevent police from doing anything outside the warrant’s authority or may prove that they did cross the line.
Defend your rights
When the police arrive with a warrant, if you do not believe the warrant is valid, or have other issues with the search, wait to fight the search. Interfering with a police search can make things worse for you in the long run.
During a search, you have the right to leave, the right for the police to tell you what is happening, and the right to an attorney. After a search, speak with an attorney about what happened, and decide what you need to do to protect yourself.