What to do when police are at your door - Ben Powers, Nashville Attorney at Law


We have all heard about, seen, thought about, or perhaps have even experienced it… the dreaded knock accompanied by an echo of “police department!” So what rights do you have when the the police are at your door?

When the Police are at Your Door

As a Tennessee criminal defense attorney who has defended clients in Franklin, Williamson County, Nashville, and throughout Middle Tennessee, in a variety of criminal charges that have involved, or even started with, the dreaded knock at the door. I’m often asked, “What are my rights when the police arrive without warning?”

First and foremost, you are not required to open your door to police officers if they don’t have a warrant. In fact, the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution are on your side and are safeguards that protect all Tennessee residents from a warrantless search of their property.

Know the “Knock-and-Talk” Rule

However, it is important to be aware of what is known as the “Knock-and-Talk rule.” Basically, this rule is exactly what it sounds like. In Tennessee police may knock on your door and, with your permission, ask you a few questions. The key component to this is with your permission. You are not required to give the police permission to speak with you and you are not required to answer their questions. You are allowed to refuse to answer the police officers’ questions and can simply close the door.

Additionally, there are established limitations to the Knock-and-Talk rule:

(1) The first limit is that the police may only approach your door, knock promptly, wait briefly for an answer at the door, and then they must leave (absent some invitation to stay longer).

(2) Second, police are like vampires – they cannot enter your home unless you invite them in – and simply opening the door to see who is outside is not an invitation for them to come inside.

(3) Lastly, while the Knock-and-Talk rule allows police to approach your door, the implied invitation to approach your front door and knock can be terminated by you giving them a clear and express order telling the police to leave the property.

Contact Legal Powers in Middle Tennessee with Your Law Questions

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, or are under criminal investigation, and want a strong criminal defense attorney in Franklin, Williamson County, Nashville, or Middle Tennessee then contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about our strong legal representation!