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Court Finds Police "Knock & Talk" Tactic Does Not Violate 4th Amendment

People v. Frederick

The court held that the police officers’ use of the “knock-and-talk” procedure did not violate the defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights. Defendants, both COs, were suspected of receiving marijuana butter from a caregiver. The investigating police officers decided to go to their homes, knock, and request to search. The defendants, each of whom had a medical marijuana card, agreed to the searches and turned over the marijuana butter. They were charged with various controlled substances offenses. Both unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence. The court denied their appeal, but the Supreme Court remanded for a determination of whether the procedures were constitutional in light of Jardines.

On remand, the court rejected defendants’ argument that “the time of the knock and talks and the manner in which the officers approached compel a conclusion that each knock and talk was a search under the Fourth Amendment.” They claimed that “because seven armed officers ‘in full tactical gear’ approached each house in the early morning hours to conduct the knock and talks,” the court “should conclude that the officers ‘did not come to talk, but rather, came to search the home for marijuana butter they knew was present, and they were not going to leave until they had accomplished their goal.’” It noted that the “record reveals no such intention” of the officers. The fact that seven officers went to each home showed “no more than that the entire team, working together on the investigation, traveled together as the investigation continued into the early morning hours.” They wore vests bearing their badges, which conveyed “a similar message as the uniform traditionally worn by an ordinary officer.” They “were armed, but only in that each had a handgun holstered at the hip—again, the same as any ordinary police officer.” Further, nothing indicated that they “chose to proceed at this time of day in order to frighten or intimidate either man, or to otherwise use the time of day to their advantage.” As in “any ordinary knock and talk,” they “approached each home, knocked, and waited for a response. When [defendants] responded, the officers explained the purpose of their visits. Both men were provided their Miranda rights and asked to voluntarily consent to a search. The officers made no attempt to search for evidence until obtaining consent to do so.” That they proceeded in this manner clearly showed “that it was their intent to speak with each individual and obtain their consent before proceeding any further.”


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