How to Deal With the Police when They Come to Your Door at a Party

It's a familiar scenario for many successful party hosts: you've turned the music up and the lights down to achieve the right vibe, the party's energy is rising, and then comes a forceful knock on the door. The police have arrived. Handling this situation effectively can mean the difference between continuing an enjoyable evening or having to shut down the party, or worse, get arrested. Read below for some guidance on how to effectively defuse the situation.


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    Get the party under control. When you hear that knock, which is likely the result of a noise complaint filed by your neighbors, your first step should be to turn off the music. If there's another source of noise - say, party revelers laughing and screaming - alert them to the situation and tell them to quiet down.
    • Do this quickly, but calmly. Don't yell at your guests; this will make the situation seem fishy, and possibly arouse the police officers' suspicion that something illegal is taking place.
    • If illegal things are taking place, move them out of view of the front door immediately. Intoxicated party guests should go to another room.
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    Open the door, step outside, and close it behind you.[1] The conversation with the police should take place outside. They are not allowed to enter the home unless they have a search or arrest warrant, they have reason to believe there's an emergency inside, or you invite them in.[2]
    • By stepping outside and closing the door, you make it clear that you have not granted them permission to enter your home.
    • Note that local laws regarding the rights of police vary. Be aware of their rights in your particular situation.
    • You might want to bring a friend outside with you, to serve as a witness for whatever goes down.
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    Politely ask the police why they are there. Your tone with them should be conversational, but not overly friendly or casual. You are not required to speak to the police, but it can help defuse the situation if you're straightforward and easygoing about their visit.[3]
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    Remain calm and respectful while addressing their concerns. If they mention that neighbors complained your party was getting out of control, assure them that you will see to it that the problem is addressed. If this is the first time that evening that they have received this complaint, it is unlikely that they will be obliged to take further action, such as issuing a citation.
    • Avoid giving the police unnecessary details when answering questions. Say no more than you need to when you're discussing the situation.
    • Do not lie to the police. If they ask you a question you're not comfortable answering, especially if it may get you in legal trouble, politely say that you decline to answer.[4]
    • In most states you are not required to show your ID to the police unless you're driving or being arrested. However, if the police ask for your ID and you feel comfortable showing it, there's no harm in making the process go more smoothly by handing it over.
    • If you admit to any controlled substances being used other than alcohol, that may be enough probable cause for the cops to obtain a search warrant.
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    Assert your right not to allow them to enter your home. In some cases the police may say they'd like to step inside and take a look around. They do not have the right to do this without your consent. State clearly and politely, "With all due respect, I do not consent to having you enter my home."[5]
    • If they ask "Why not?" then reply by saying that "I can't let you inside without a warrant". This politely but firmly demonstrates that you know and exercise your right to privacy inside your home.
    • If you are uncertain about whether the police are giving you an order or making a request, ask them if you have to comply.
    • If you are not obliged to comply, do not give verbal or written consent to let the police come in your house. Once you give them permission, they are allowed to thoroughly search the premises.
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    If the officers insist that you must comply, let them inside. If you don't comply with the order you risk getting arrested and/or entry being gained by force. By opening the door you're giving implied consent for them to enter, but in the end it's better to have your privacy invaded for half an hour than to be arrested and put in a cell overnight.
    • Do not admit to anything that would incriminate you. You have the right to remain silent; you should comply with the officer's request, but know when to stop talking.
    • Never raise your voice or get belligerent with a police officer. This will certainly make things worse.
    • If the police find illegal substances, know your rights. Tell them you want to speak to a lawyer.
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    Keep the party under control once the police leave. Send people home if you have to. The police are far less likely to be understanding if they are asked to come back a second time. If that happens, you can expect to get ticketed, if not arrested. They may even come back with a warrant in hand and some backup to raid the house. Don't risk it.


  • Test out your sound system before the party to determine how far the sound carries from your home. This way, you'll know if neighbors are going to be disturbed before the police come knocking.
  • To minimize the likelihood of police showing up at your party, reach out to neighbors before you have the party to let them know what to expect and how to reach you if noise becomes a problem. Provide a phone number - preferably a landline. They won't go to your door, especially not during a party, due to safety concerns.
  • Let your guests know where to park to avoid upsetting neighbors. Make sure they don't end up obstructing/ trespassing.
  • Ask guests to avoid noisy entrances and departures.
  • Take the time to learn more about your rights what local laws may be in effect that govern what you can and cannot do at a party, and what they police may lawfully do in the event of a complaint.
  • Try to keep the illegal things away from the entrance so if anything were to occur, you could attempt to quickly send someone out the back door with them.
  • Even if you aren't the host of the party, if everyone else is intoxicated, you can also take control of the situation.


  • Understand that police are there to control the situation and collect evidence of illegal activities. They assure you that things will be OK if you let them go through the house, that they just need to do a routine check, etc. Do not assume that this is true. They can legally lie to you.
  • As a party host, you are presumed to be responsible for what is happening in your home. If your guests are consuming drugs or alcohol illegally, you can get in trouble for their actions, including accidents that occur if they leave your party driving drunk. You could get done for drug dealing or illegally supplying alcohol to a minor. Don't risk it.

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Categories: Dealing with Police Officers | Parties