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Know your rights if police knock on your door

If New Mexico police conduct a “knock and talk,” it is important for the person who answers the door to know his or her rights ahead of time. This phrase refers to situations where police show up unannounced to a person’s home, knock on the door and ask to step inside to “have a look around.” In most cases, this is done when police do not have a search warrant or probable cause to enter a home without a warrant or without the homeowner’s permission.

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unlawful search and seizure

The court typically does not look favorably upon police officers who have ample time to obtain a search warrant when necessary but proceed without doing so. The U.S. Constitution provides protection under the Fourth Amendment so the average person’s rights to privacy are not violated. In certain circumstances, police may enter a home without a warrant or without a homeowner giving consent. However, in many cases, a homeowner has a right to refuse entry to a police officer who is at the door asking to step inside.

Verbal consent from a homeowner changes everything

If a homeowner verbally agrees to let police enter the home and conduct a search, a search warrant is no longer needed. In most cases, police are required to inform a homeowner that he or she can retract consent at any time and may also limit consent to a specific room or area of the home. This is often referred to as “Ferrier Warnings,” because of a case in Washington State known as State v. Ferrier, in the late 1990s, where the court overturned a conviction because police did not inform the defendant that she had the right to refuse consent to their search.

What to do if an unlawful search and seizure has taken place

The laws that govern search and seizure are complex. If a New Mexico resident believes he or she is facing criminal charges in a case where a violation of his or her Fourth Amendment rights has taken place, a request for consultation can be placed with an experienced criminal law attorney. Such an attorney can carefully review a specific case and recommend a defense strategy that best fits a particular defendant’s needs.