Vancouver, WA asked in Criminal Law, Civil Litigation and Civil Rights for Washington

Q: If police are called to my house for a woman yelling and there wasn't a woman yelling can they unscrew my porch light?

Police were called for woman yelling and wasn't the case made contact asked them to leave, they knocked again and unscrewed my porch light and still wouldn't leave my property after seeing woman was fine and no problem are they allowed to touch and mess with my property?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: It would likely be inappropriate and potentially unlawful for police officers to unscrew or tamper with your porch light after responding to a call at your home and finding no issue or disturbance requiring police action. A few key points:

- Police generally need a lawful purpose or probable cause to remain on private property against the owner's wishes. If they confirmed there was no yelling or domestic issue, they should leave if you ask them to, barring any other legal justification.

- The officers had no right to touch or interfere with your property without consent or legal authority. Unscrewing your porch light would be considered unlawful tampering or potentially destruction of property if no valid reason existed.

- You can file a complaint with the police department over the officers' conduct of remaining on your property and manipulating your porch light fixture. Their supervision/internal affairs can then investigate if rules or laws were broken.

- If any damage resulted, you may also consider consulting a civil rights or constitutional law attorney regarding legal options. Interfering with property rights without due process raises constitutional issues.

Unless facts emerge showing the officers did have some lawful reason to remain and take action on your porch light, their behavior seems questionable at best from the information provided. Challenging it through official complaints and potential civil remedies is reasonable.

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