It has become commonplace for police to use this very simple, yet effective ruse to get into your home. Someone calls the police, be it a neighbor who does not
like the traffic to and from your house during all hours of the day or night or
simply one of your “rat” friends who snitch you out, and the police come knocking on your door. You should know that, unless the police have a search warrant, you need not answer the door. Their purpose is not to tell you that you won the good neighbor award. They are there to try to find some reason to arrest you.

Once you open the door, it’s an easy matter for the officer to say he/she smelled the odor of marijuana, saw a bong,  saw something illegal, resulting in your detention and a search warrant being secured to search your residence, culminating in your arrest. Remember, it will be your word against that of an officer. Who do you think the judge or jury will believe? So how do you avoid getting zapped? Do not answer the door if you do not know who is at the door, especially if you believe they are police. Unless they announce “search warrant,” you have no legal duty to respond.

Assume you were half-asleep when you answered the door and you suddenly realize it’s the police. Unless you are placed under arrest and cannot leave, you would be wise to politely excuse yourself, tell them you are in a hurry, do not have time to talk to them, close the door and call your attorney, if you have one. If the officer prevents you from closing the door, step outside, close the door  behind you so they cannot look in and tell the officer you were on your way out, do not have time to talk to them and leave. Remember, you do not have to talk to them and if they persist, politely tell them you want an attorney before you answer any questions. Anything you say, anything the officer sees, smells or hears will be used against you in court or as a basis to secure a search warrant. This “knock and talk” ruse has recently been approved by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in  United States v. Perea-Rey (9th Cir. 2012)

Knocking on a door is an “age old request for permission to speak to the occupant.” State v. Haywood, 00-1584 (La.App.5 Cir.3/28/01), 783 So.2d 568, quoting State v. Sanders, 374 So.2d 1186, 1188 (La.1979). When a door is opened in response to a knock and the person voluntarily talks to the person at the door, there is no compulsion, force or coercion involved so no constitutional violation occurs.

In response to a “knock and talk,” you have the absolute right to deny officers admission and to refuse to answer questions, assuming they are not there pursuant to a search or arrest warrant.Hardister v. State, 849 N.E.2d 563 (Ind., 2006)


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