If you are interacting with the police for the first time, perhaps because they believe you’ve committed a crime, you may not fully be aware of what they can and cannot do. There are a lot of limits on the police, but you may be surprised by some of the things that they are legally allowed to do.
It’s important to know how this entire process works as you go through it, both so that you can react properly and so that you can know if the police have overstepped their bounds. Here are a few things that may surprise you:
The police can lie to you
First of all, it’s not against the law for the police to lie to you. Critics say that they often do this with juveniles who have been arrested. They could lie about what evidence they had, witness statements from other people, and things of this nature. It’s basically just an attempt at manipulation, usually seeking to get someone to confess to an alleged crime because they believe the police already have evidence or information that they don’t have.
The police can go through your trash
You do have a right to privacy for things that are in your own home, and this includes your trash as long as it’s in the house, but you lose that right to privacy when the trash leaves your property. It ends up in plain view in the bin on the side of the road. At this point, if the police would like to go through it and seek evidence, they are allowed to do so, even if they don’t have a warrant to search your actual home.
They can enter your house in an emergency
Speaking of warrants, most people assume that the police must have a warrant to enter your house at any time. The only exception that they know about is if you give the police consent. But, in cases in which the police believe an emergency is occurring, they may also be able to enter the house without consent or a warrant. This can be problematic when they say that they think there was an emergency – such as saying someone was in danger – but you claim no such emergency existed.
Understanding your rights
These are just three things the police are allowed to do out of many. If you’re involved in the investigation, be sure you know about all of your legal rights and criminal defense options.