By Carlos Gamino

Most people aren’t too excited about the police knocking on their doors – but what happens if you ignore them when they come by? Can you go to jail for ignoring the police? This guide explains.

Do You Have to Answer the Door for the Police?

The police can knock on your door all day and you can safely ignore them – unless they have a warrant. When the police have a warrant, you are legally required to answer the door. If you fail to open the door when the police tell you that they have a warrant, you run the risk of them breaking the door down and arresting you.

The Warrant: How it Works

Police can only enter your home without your permission if they have probable cause, there are “exigent circumstances,” or they have a warrant. Exigent circumstances are circumstances in which the police believe that someone inside the home needs emergency aid, they’re in “hot pursuit” of a suspect who’s on the run, or they want to prevent the destruction of evidence. If the police don’t have probable cause and at least one exigent circumstance, they need to get a warrant signed by a judge to gain the right to enter your home.

Related: What to do if you have a warrant out for your arrest in Wisconsin

How Do Police Get a Warrant?

In order to get a warrant, the police need to show a judge that they have a very good reason for wanting to enter your home. The judge has to agree; if the judge doesn’t agree, the police are limited to standing on your front porch and knocking, just like any other citizen would.

Related: What to do if a capias is issued for you

Will You Go to Jail if You Don’t Answer the Door for Police?

You won’t go to jail if you don’t answer when the police knock – it’s not a crime to ignore the police at your door when they don’t have a warrant. They can, however, arrest you for something else.

However, if you don’t answer the door when the police announce that they have a warrant to enter your home, there’s a good chance that they’ll kick in or break down your door. If they believe you’re going to be combative, they may come in aggressively. If you resist the police when they attempt to subdue you, you can be charged with a related crime – and, of course, you can be arrested for whatever crime got the police the warrant in the first place.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Police Entering Your Home?

If the police entered your home unlawfully, or if they otherwise violated your rights, you should talk to an attorney. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced professional now. We’ll give you the legal advice you need to start moving forward.

Attorney Carlos Gamino