Can You Be Arrested in Your Own Home in Pennsylvania?
Privacy is held in high regard in the American legal system, and nowhere is more private than one’s own home. Even so, that does not stop the police from arresting you while at home, although there are restrictions on law enforcement’s authority.
You are not shielded from arrest in your own home. While the police can arrest you at home, they usually must have a warrant. There are restrictions on the police’s power to arrest, and your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures must always be upheld. However, the police may arrest a person in their home without a warrant if special circumstances exist. For example, if someone living in the home consents, or if there is an emergency, the police can enter without a warrant. If you have been arrested or believe an arrest is imminent, contact an attorney and explain the situation right away.
If you are under criminal investigation by the police, you might be arrested in your own home. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge the charges and protect your rights. For a free case review, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.
When Can I Be Arrested at Home in Pennsylvania?
Although your home is legally protected from a lot of government intrusion, this protection is not without exceptions. The police may come to your home and arrest you. However, the police cannot simply barge into your home and put you in handcuffs. There are rules and legal procedures that must be followed for the police to be able to arrest someone in their own home. If you fear you might soon be arrested, contact our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys for help right away.
As said before, the police usually need an arrest warrant to arrest someone in their own home. In fact, the police usually need arrest warrants no matter where the arrest occurs, even on the public street. A warrant must be backed up by sufficient probable cause. There is no clear definition of probable cause, but it is generally held to be anything that leads law enforcement to believe that a crime has been committed and that a suspect is the one who committed it.
Although it might be intimidating to face the police, especially if they claim to have a warrant, you are legally required to answer your door and confront them. Refusing to let the police in or refusing to go outside to meet them might cause more trouble than it’s worth. In some cases, people are charged with evading arrest or obstructing justice if they try to prevent law enforcement officials from executing an arrest warrant.
Restrictions on Arrests in Your Home in Pennsylvania
The power to arrest is very significant, and the police are not granted unlimited authority. Arresting someone at all, let alone in their own home, is often heavily restricted. If certain legal procedures are not followed to the letter, the arrest might be invalidated, evidence obtained pursuant to the arrest thrown out, and the case against the defendant severely weakened.
Perhaps the biggest restriction on arrests in the home is the warrant rule itself. Warrants are not just given away to any officer that asks for one. They must be authorized by a judge and based on sufficient probable cause. Even if a judge authorizes an arrest warrant, the warrant might still be defective.
For example, the police are responsible for providing sufficient probable cause to justify the warrant. While what is considered “sufficient” might vary from case to case, the police must be able to point to real and articulable evidence, not mere hunches or gut instincts. If a police officer arrives at your home to arrest you because they have “a bad feeling” about you, the arrest is illegal, and you should call our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys for help immediately.
Police must also adhere to the knock-and-announce rule when making arrests in your home. Under this rule, the police must knock and announce their presence to the home’s occupants. Essentially, they cannot sneak up on you in your own home. However, there are exceptions, such as if the police fear a suspect might flee, retaliate, or block the entrance. The knock-and-announce rule is not statutory but carved out by the courts over time. A violation of the rule does not necessarily mean any evidence obtained via arrest is excluded, but it might be an important factor in your defense.
When the Police Do Not Need a Warrant to Arrest You in Your Home in Pennsylvania
The police have a lot of power regarding when and how they execute an arrest. While the warrant requirement is the gold standard for arrests, there are instances in which the police may dispense with the warrant requirement. While warrantless arrests are not always illegal, they should be treated as highly suspect. Contact our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys immediately if you were arrested without a warrant.
The police might be able to arrest a person in their home without a warrant if they are given consent to enter the home first. Once inside the home, the police can arrest you if they find some probable cause in plain sight. For example, suppose a person willingly allows the police to enter their home, and then the police see a large baggie of cocaine on the kitchen table in plain view. They could potentially arrest that person in their home without a warrant.
The police can also make warrantless arrests in the home if an emergency exists that requires the police to enter the home. For example, if the police believe that someone inside a home is in imminent danger and needs help, they do not have to ask permission or get a warrant to enter. They may also arrest the person creating the danger once inside. When it comes to public safety issues, the police are given more leeway regarding arrests and searches.
Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation
You can contact our York County criminal defense attorneys for help if you were arrested in your home or elsewhere. To schedule a free case review with our team, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.