One of the most significant powers the police in Philadelphia have is the power to arrest. Being arrested can be an intimidating experience, and the police might come to your front door to make the arrest.
The police in Philadelphia can arrest you in your own home, but there are limitations on the power to arrest. Typically, the police need an arrest warrant. The warrant is a powerful tool and allows the police to arrest people almost anywhere, including at home. There might even be circumstances where the police can arrest you in your home without a warrant. In an emergency, they might not need a warrant and can arrest you, even at home. If the police show up at your front door with an arrest warrant, but you refuse to answer, they might be allowed to enter anyway and take you into custody. In fact, preventing the police from entering might land you in bigger trouble.
Not every arrest is valid, and our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge your arrest and any evidence seized by the police. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Can the Philadelphia Police Arrest Me in My Own Home?
A person’s home is subject to a lot of protection, and law enforcement or others government agents are often restricted from entering. However, that does not mean a person can never be arrested at home. If that were true, fleeing suspects would never be arrested because they could simply return home to avoid the police.
To arrest someone in their own home – or anywhere for that matter – the police usually need an arrest warrant. The warrant must be based on probable cause that the suspect has committed a crime. While there is no concrete definition of probable cause, it must contain some articulable evidence demonstrating a crime was committed and the suspect is likely the perpetrator. The police must submit their probable cause to a judge or magistrate who will review it and authorize the warrant if they believe the probable cause is sufficient.
A warrant is a powerful tool for law enforcement because it can be executed almost anywhere, including in your home. Even so, the police usually cannot just barge into someone’s home with a warrant. In most cases, the police will knock and announce their presence and explain why they are there. However, the knock-and-announce rule is not set in stone, and the police might attempt to take a suspect by surprise. Contact our Montgomery criminal defense lawyers for help immediately if you were recently arrested.
Can the Philadelphia Police Arrest Me in My Home Without a Warrant?
Although the warrant rule is sort of the gold standard when it comes to arrests, it is not always required. In special circumstances, the police can arrest a person without a warrant, even in their own home. These situations usually include some kind of emergency or threat that requires the police to act immediately rather than wait for a warrant.
The police can often dispense with the need for an arrest warrant if they witness the suspect commit the crime. For example, if a police officer saw a robbery in progress, they would not go back to the police station, write up a request for a warrant, and wait for a judge to approve it. They would immediately arrest the alleged robber. It is possible that this exception to the warrant rule might follow someone home.
Suppose the police witnessed a robbery in progress, but when they attempted to intervene, the alleged robber fled the scene. At that point, the police are in hot pursuit and are allowed to chase the suspect no matter where they go, even in their own home. If the suspect ran inside and locked the door, the police can still force their way in and arrest the suspect at home without a warrant.
The above example is a bit extreme but demonstrates the extent of the power of police to arrest. Another example is if the police believe someone in the home needs emergency help. In that case, they can enter the home and potentially arrest someone if necessary.
A warrantless arrest is not always illegal but should still be considered highly suspect. Call our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys for help if you were arrested without a proper warrant.
What if I Refuse to Answer the Door When the Philadelphia Police Try to Arrest Me at Home?
When the police come to your home with an arrest warrant, they will likely knock and announce their presence, as mentioned above. It is understandable to feel very frightened when the police are at your door, and you might be tempted to keep the door shut or pretend you are not home. However, preventing the police from entering your home or otherwise evading arrest might land you in even bigger trouble.
It might be a criminal offense to refuse to cooperate with the police when they are at your door with a warrant. While many believe they are masters of their domain at home, they must still surrender to law enforcement when a warrant is involved. Refusing to cooperate might be perceived as interfering with a criminal investigation or evading arrest. You might face charges for something like evading arrest or obstruction of justice.
The best thing to do in this situation is to go with the police and answer no questions until you have a lawyer. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorney can help you figure out exactly what is going on and what kind of charges you are facing.
Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help with Your Case
Just because the police have the power of arrest does not mean their power is unlimited or unchecked. Our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge an unlawful arrest. For a free case assessment with our team, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.