A knock and talk is a strategy used by police to conduct a search without a search warrant. Here's how it works: A tip is called in or an investigation has led to the home of a subject, but there has not been a search warrant issued based on the current information. Officers will then visit the home and knock on the door in an effort to speak with the subject. Police will then hold a conversation with the subject and attempt to gain consent for entry and search.
Once an officer has consent and conducts a search, whatever is found within the subject's home can be confiscated and held against them in a court of law.
Firstly, you do not have to consent to a search just because a police officer requests. Without a search warrant, probable cause for arrest, or an emergency of some kind, an officer cannot force his way into your home or gather evidence at any time. If you say no, a police officer must respect this statement and walk away.
Additionally, you are protected under the Fourth Amendment, the right to be secure in "persons, houses, papers, and effects." This means that if the officer does anything to disregard your rights, even if you consent to a search, anything confiscated or gathered as evidence cannot be used against you in court.
No matter your living arrangements, there is a certain expectation of privacy from the general public that is accepted by society. If you live in a home with an open front yard, there is an expectation of privacy on land outside of a sidewalk or driveway or anything past the front door. In a home with a fence, there is an expectation of privacy anywhere beyond the fence. In an apartment complex without security or closed/locked gates, there is an expectation of privacy in the area surrounding the front door of the apartment. In an apartment complex with security or closed/locked gates, there is an expectation of privacy beyond the gates or security. The list goes on, but, the point is, a police officer must respect this expectation of privacy just like the general public under the fourth amendment. If this is breached, anything that occurs or is gathered after this point is unlawful.
If an officer knocks on your door and asks to talk or search, just say no. This can be done in several ways and should never require force. You can even offer to give them a call or meet with them after receiving legal advice or in the presence of a lawyer at a later time. Regardless of the circumstances, it's important to know your rights and act on them.
For criminal defense advice or representation, call Kevin Stockstill today.