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Know your rights when the cops are at the door

Would you know what to do if the cops got called out on a noise complaint at your house party? You should, because the repercussions from not understanding your Constitutional rights can reverberate across all aspects of your life – now, and in the future.

One student in Boulder didn’t and suffered the consequences. Below are some tips for avoiding problems with the police.

When the knock comes

If you’re having a party, keep your door closed and locked. Not only is this a good safety measure in general, but it also keeps the cops from strolling right into your dwelling without a warrant. If they knock on your door, ask why they are there.

A simple noise complaint can be handled through a closed-door interaction. You agree to turn the music down, quell the crowd noise and be mindful of neighbors, whatever they ask you to do. 

Don’t open the door

Even with the chain still on, that gives a visual perspective into your home, If they insist on speaking to you, you have a couple of options. 

  • Go outside. Leave the front door locked and go out the back and meet them. Tell them this so they don’t feel ambushed. Deal with the situation outside without providing warrantless entry to your home.
  • Insist they return with a warrant. Few cops will wake a sleeping judge to sign a warrant on a simple noise complaint. But if you let them in, they may glimpse illegal drug usage, underage drinking and any number of charges to which they would otherwise remain oblivious.

Will this work for all occasions? Ideally, yes. But we live in the real world where law enforcement officers don’t always play by the rules.

Survive the incident

Your number one goal in every interaction with the police is to survive the encounter. Don’t resist if they arrest you. Exercise your right to remain silent until you can consult with your defense.