A police officer shows up at your house, knocks on the door, and says that they want to come in and talk to you. They say it authoritatively, so it feels like a command that you have to follow.
But do you? You didn’t invite them to your house, so you have to allow them to come inside?
Do they have a warrant?
Start by asking the officer if they have a warrant. If they do, they should be able to show it to you and it will tell you that they are allowed to enter at least a portion of your property. Some warrants are very specific, while some are broader. But an officer who has a warrant does not necessarily need your permission to come inside.
Do you consent to a search?
If they do not have a warrant, then the choice becomes yours. You can consent to allow them inside and give them permission to search your house or talk to you, or you can tell them that they’re not allowed to enter your property. This is not illegal and they cannot arrest you simply for refusing to let them in without a warrant.
Is there an emergency?
There are some exceptions to the way that this works, essentially giving the police the ability to enter a home in an emergency. But even if they do this, they will have to show after the fact that the emergency was severe enough to justify coming into your home without consent or a warrant.
If you find yourself facing serious charges after an arrest, especially if the police violated your rights, make sure you know about your legal options.