If you have been arrested for any kind of crime in South Carolina, you are likely wondering if there’s anything that you could have done differently to avoid the arrest. Guilty or innocent, you have more rights while you are inside your home than you do once you open the door to the police.
If the police come to your home, you are not legally required to answer the door and let them in. In fact, the US constitution, along with the South Carolina constitution, protects you from police intrusion. The police cannot forcibly enter your home because you won’t answer the door, unless there are extenuating or exigent circumstances, such as a report of domestic violence or other dangerous situation.
If the police actually have a search warrant or arrest warrant, then the rules are different, and you can save yourself from some expensive property damage by opening the door yourself. If there is no warrant, however, and there are not extenuating circumstances, then you are well within your rights to completely ignore the knocking on your door.
Ignoring the Police Can be an Uncomfortable Right to Exercise
Even though you can ignore the police, that doesn’t mean that you have to, and many people do not feel comfortable exercising their rights in this situation. It may feel like a rude thing to do, or it might cause a great deal of anxiety to hear them knocking on the door or ringing the bell. You are allowed to ignore them or even tell them through the door that you won’t be answering the door and you’d like them to leave. They may or may not leave, right away; but if you continue to refuse to open the door, and if they have no cause to enter your home, they eventually will.
Even so, it is extremely common for people to open the door to police when it is really a mistake to do so. From the moment you open the door, the police have a chance to say that there is some cause for them to arrest you. You smell like alcohol. They can see drugs or potentially stolen materials in your house from the doorway. You might innocently answer a question that they will take as an indication of guilt or involvement in some kind of crime. Where were you an hour ago? Did you say that you were at [insert location where crime may have happened]? Well, there you go. And by ‘there you go,’ we mean ‘to jail.’
Ultimately, if you don’t feel comfortable answering your door to the police, then you are probably wise to avoid doing so. Even opening your door a crack could result in the police pushing the door the rest of the way open and entering your home. Keeping your door closed and locked and asking the police to leave is often the best thing to do. If they don’t have a warrant or exigent circumstances, then they cannot forcibly enter your home.
When Criminal Confessions Are Made Under Duress
Another important thing to be aware of is the fact that we still live in a world where confessions to criminal activities may be coerced through overly aggressive interrogation and indications that you have no choice but to confess to a crime, regardless of whether or not you are guilty. Yet, even though this does still happen, such tactics are not legal, and confessions that are coerced cannot be used in court if they are proven to have been made under duress. In fact, if you feel that you were coerced into making a confession, you can contact the Michael Jeffcoat Firm to discuss your case, and we may be able to get the charges entirely dropped.
If you aren’t sure, consider the usual indications of coerced confessions, which include extended interrogation without a break, being deprived of any necessity (including sleep, food, or bathroom breaks), or being threatened with violence or potentially harmful actions to yourself or your family (really, any threats at all). In some cases, the suspect might actually experience the threatened violence if they refuse to confess. If any of these things happened, or if you felt any other kind of pressure to admit to a crime, as if you had no other option, contact the skilled and dedicated Charlotte criminal defense attorneys at the Michael Jeffcoat Firm today, and remember that a coerced confession is not admissible in court.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.