In order to enter your home to begin a search, the police must either have consent or have a warrant supported by probable cause to believe that the home contains evidence of a crime in order to obtain a warrant to search your home from “a neutral and detached magistrate judge.” (There are a few exceptions to these two types of entry that are not discussed in this article).
Often times when people are faced with police knocking asking at their door requesting they be allowed in, a surprisingly large percentage of people acquiesce and allow them in for fear if they refuse they may be bringing suspicion upon themselves or avoiding the inevitable – the police will come in anyway. This is where it is important to know your rights and how to exercise those rights. A person in this situation has an absolute right not to allow law enforcement into their home if they do not have a warrant under most circumstances. You are allowed and should ask to see the warrant. You are allowed and should not grant consent to search your home.
Probable cause to search for narcotics or drugs serving as a basis for a warrant can be obtained in many different ways. Often times, this information comes from surveillance and/or from cooperating witnesses or informants who tell them there are drug transactions occurring within a citizen’s home.
The reliability of the informant and why the informant is working for the police is information that is necessary to challenge the reliability of the information and thus the probable cause the warrant is based upon. One of the most common reasons why an informant is working for the police is that they themselves were arrested for some crime, generally drugs. Often times the cooperating witness is someone that the dealer has known and trusted for years. The newly cooperating witness will be sent to a known drug dealer or location to purchase drugs wearing a wire or listening device. Sometimes the police will send the same witness back several times to make multiple purchases therefore creating a basis for multiple sales transactions to be charged against the narcotics dealer. Sometimes arrests do not happen for weeks or months during the period of time the narcotics officers are making cases using the particular informant who may have had multiple sources to purchase narcotics on behalf of narcotics officers. The officers will then use this infomation to obtain a search warrant for the residence.