Any time you are stopped by Tennessee law enforcement officials, it is easy to become stressed and say or do things that are not helpful to your situation. One way to avoid this is to know your rights before the police show up at your door. If you are accused of a crime, the American Civil Liberties Union defines the rights you have that are intended to protect you from any wrongdoing by police.

If the police show up at your door, you do not want to invite them into your house. You can ask them to provide identification or speak to them through the door. The only time you must let them into your house is if a judicial officer signed a warrant that lists your home to be searched. If you are the subject of an arrest warrant or your name is on the document, they may also enter your home.

Just because an officer has a warrant, this does not mean that you must immediately open the door. You can ask them to either hold it up to your window or slide it under the door so you can examine it before letting the officers in. While an arrest warrant may have your name on it, a search warrant is different in that the officers can enter your house but can only search for the items and areas listed on the warrant.

Even when officers enter your home with a valid arrest or search warrant, you still have the right to remain silent. You do not have to speak to the officers or answer any of their questions while they conduct the search. Keep track of what they take, where they go and what they do as you silently observe them and wait for your chance to contact an attorney.

This is for educational purposes and is should not be interpreted as legal advice.

If you are in Tennessee and have questions about rules regarding criminal law, call the Law Office of Gregory D. Smith, 931/647-1299 or visit Mr. Smith is listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers and is A-V rated by Martindale-Hubbell. You can read a featured article about Mr. Smith in the November, 2019 ABA Journal, (the national magazine of the American Bar Association), at