We recently posted an article about your 4th Amendment rights in Kentucky: what do you do when the police knock on your door? What are your rights? What is your obligation? What are their obligations here?
Recently, a reader posted an interesting question, asking us to clarify a situation when the police MAY be able to enter your home without a warrant:
Diana asked: “Just to be clear if the police come knocking on your door in response to a complaint from a neighbor for noise do you have to answer the door? Can you tell them you are not going to talk to them? In this case it is clear there is no warrant but just a complaint, are you required to answer the door? Can you just sit inside your home and not say anything at all?”
“You pose an interesting question. Normally, if the police come and knock on your door you do not have to answer it (unless they have a search warrant). But the situation you’re asking about might be a little different. Normally, of course, police officers need a warrant or your consent to come into your home. Without either of those, they can only make an entry if they have “exigent circumstances,” which loosely means an emergency situation. For example, if they’re chasing a thief and the thief runs into a home, they police don’t have to stop and go get a warrant. Under the hot pursuit doctrine, they can make the warrantless entry into the home because they are in hot pursuit.
Making a lot of noise in a residential area may actually be another one of those situations. There is a case (United States v. Rohig) where the person did just what you said — police came to investigate a noise complaint, knocked on the door and the person did not answer (because he was drunk!) The court ended up saying that, in that sort of a circumstance, the officers were not unreasonable in making entry.
So, if you’re having a loud party (or listening to your stereo at full blast) and you don’t answer the door, the police might come in anyway. In that circumstance, it might be best to talk to them and turn the music down. If you do open the door for police, you will always want to be mindful about what they can see and smell. If they can see or smell evidence of other illegal activity, you might be in a bit of hot water.”
Do you have a question about your 4th Amendment rights in Kentucky? Please ask in the comments below. Thank you!