You probably realize that you should never allow the police to search your residence without a warrant. Insisting on a warrant is the only way to make certain that the police don’t exceed their authority and that your rights are protected.
However, if you live with other people, you still may not be protected.
Under the law, anyone in control of a property can consent to a search. In other words, any roommate, housemate, romantic partner or another individual that’s living with you has the potential right to consent to a search. If you’re present, you can stop the search from proceeding — but you have no guarantee that you’ll be there when the police arrive.
What can you do to protect yourself?
1. Have a meeting
Sit the other residents down and verify that you are all on the same page regarding police searches. Even if you think there is nothing for the police to find, it’s important that everyone be in agreement about the necessity to act in a protective manner.
2. Keep your bedroom locked
If you live with people other than your spouse or romantic partner, keep your private room locked. Do not give anyone permission to enter it when you are not home. That reinforces your expectation of privacy, which is the key thing that has to be overcome for a police search without a warrant to be valid.
3. Keep your electronics locked
Similarly, you can expect the police to pay special attention to any electronics if they’re searching for evidence of financial crimes, like money laundering or fraud. Because of this, you want to make sure that you restrict access to your phone and laptop with a password, especially if you ever leave them in the common areas of the home. Do not share the password with your housemates.
If you’ve been subjected to a police search of your property or you believe that you’re being investigated for financial crimes or fraud, an attorney who has experience handling white collar crimes can help protect your rights and guide you.