How to Handle a Search of Your Home if You Are Not Present at the Time

Generally, before entering a person’s home to search or arrest anyone, the police must have a warrant. The warrant will state who they are and why they wish to enter the house. If they have a search warrant from the court, the police can search your home, whether you are present or not.

House Search

That said, there are different types of the warrant. An entry warrant is different from a search warrant. If you find out the police have searched your home when you are not there, here’s what to do:

Call your attorney

You have the right to refuse anyone entry to your home without a warrant. Your attorney will confirm if the police have a valid warrant to search your home in your absence. If the search is illegal, the lawyer will inform you of your legal rights and guide you in exercising them. In most cases, whatever evidence is gained through this illegal search will not be admitted in court. Unfortunately, most police officers, as government employees, have “qualified immunity.” This immunity applies to law enforcement personnel, such as police, which violates a person’s right. If the police officers involved have qualified immunity, suing them for entering your home without a warrant might be difficult. Hence, the only remedy for the offense is not admitting the evidence obtained in court.

When can the police enter your home?

Normally, the police can enter and search your home in one of two conditions. The first condition is that you give them permission to do so. If the police show up at your doorstep, you have the right to refuse them entry. But with your permission, they can legally search your home.

Secondly, the police can enter and search your home if they have a warrant signed by the judge. Note that this warrant can be one of the two explained below:

Search warrant

A search warrant is a written document signed by the judge that gives the police the authority to search your home. The document usually states the things the police are searching for. It gives them the right to take these things from your house once they are found. You have the right to read the warrant. The document does not give them the right to destroy your things unnecessarily. Their search is only limited to reasonable areas in the house based on what they’re looking for. For instance, they can not open your fridge if they’re looking for a power bike. And they must leave once they find the item(s). It’s always good to note the name and police number of the officer in charge of the search.

Arrest warrant

An arrest warrant gives the police the right to enter your home and arrest the person whose name is on the document. They are not there to search for evidence but to remove the person and take them into police custody. 

Note that the police can also retrieve any illegal item on sight if they enter your house with one of these warrants. For example, if they are there to arrest a person and they find drugs lying on the table. They can seize it and take it with them.

In addition to these warrants, police can enter your home in an emergency. Though they have no right to search in this case. What constitutes emergencies are:

  • If someone has just committed a crime and runs into your home.
  • If they believe someone inside the house is in danger
  • If they believe there’s an emergency and someone needs help.

Note that while in your house during this emergency entry, the police can seize any illegal item that they come upon.