If you have ever experienced the anxiety of having the police knocking at your door, you probably wish you had known more about your rights before you opened it. If you are in this situation, or concerned that you might be in the near future, then there are some important things that you need to know. For instance, you should be aware that the police cannot forcibly enter your home without a good reason or a warrant. Further, you have more civil rights within your home than you do outside of it. If you are pulled over in your vehicle or stopped while walking outdoors, then you must comply with the police and do what they ask you to do. If you are inside your own home, with the door closed and preferably locked, then you aren’t required to respond to the police at all when they knock on your door.
Now, if the police have a good reason to force their way in, such as a complaint that someone is being abused or
harmed in your home, then they are going to say so before they break down the door. Similarly, if they have a warrant to enter your home, then they are going to tell you that. They aren’t just going to come knocking and break down the door when you don’t answer. They’ll inform you of why they intend to enter the home forcibly, if you don’t answer, and then, you will have the opportunity to avoid the drama and the property damage by opening the door yourself, knowing that you don’t really have much choice. If this is the case, and you know that they are coming in one way or another, then you should answer the door. If this is not the case, if there is no warrant, and if there is no other just cause for the police to force their way in, then you would be better off not opening the door at all.
This may seem counter-intuitive because you are used to doing what the police tell you to do, and it feels uncomfortable to ignore them. Yet, opening your door, even a little bit, can give the police a reasonable excuse for entering your home. They simply have to say that they saw, smelled, or heard something that caused them to enter, or that they entered with your permission because you opened the door and allowed them in, even if you didn’t actually invite them in. For example, you may have opened your door just a crack, and the police officer may have pushed it the rest of the way open and walked in as if he or she was invited.
The Constitution Protects Your Rights When You are In Your Own Home
The US Constitution and South Carolina Constitution and Code of Laws protect your rights when you are in your own home. They clarify that no officer is permitted to enter your home by force if they do not have a good reason to do so (like a warrant or suspicion of violence or harm to a victim). Further, they must tell you of their intention to enter your home before they can bust down the door. They may be excused for not doing so if there are extenuating circumstances, but in the majority of cases, they are going to tell you before they force their way in, giving you the opportunity to answer the door on your own and cooperate.
Can You Simply Ask the Police Officer to Go Away in Greenville?
You are well within your rights to ask the police officer to go away, but don’t expect them to do so. They may consider it suspicious that you won’t answer the door or they may be convinced that if they can convince you to, they will be able to find a good reason to arrest you or enter your home as soon as the door is opened. They may want to ask you questions, thinking that you will incriminate yourself or someone else by answering them. They may be very persistent. They may stand at your doorstep for hours, knocking and ringing the bell. You can tell them (without opening the door) that you are not going to answer and that you would like them to leave. They don’t have to leave. They might not leave, right away. You might be in the excruciatingly uncomfortable position of trying to ignore their ongoing attempts to get you to answer the door. Still, if you do not answer the door, they cannot stay there forever. Eventually, they will either leave the premises or get a warrant and alert you that they have the right to enter by force if you won’t open the door. As long as they don’t have that warrant, they are limited to knocking and ringing the bell and trying to get you to answer.
If you do have to answer the door, because they alert you that they have a warrant or other just cause to enter the home, then you would be wise to answer the door, but avoid discussing anything with the officers or answering any questions. If you are not being taken into custody, then you do not have to answer questions that might incriminate you or others. If you are taken into custody, then your rights should be read to you, and you should invoke your right to remain silent until you have an opportunity to speak to an attorney. Whether you are taken into custody or not, having the police take an interest in you and attempt to question you about a crime is a good reason to get a lawyer and make sure that your rights are protected. Call Lauren Taylor Law to learn more about your rights when the police take an interest in you and you might need a good South Carolina criminal defense attorney on your side.