Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Knock and Talk Definition:

An investigation technique involving a law enforcement officer attending at the door of certain premises to speak with the occupants, or asking for consent to search the premises.

Related Terms: Knock and Announce Rule, Search Warrant, Fourth Amendment

See, also, the Legal Definition of Knock and Announce Rule.

In Young v City of Radcliff, Justice John Heyburn of the United States District Court (Louisville) adopted these words:

"Absent exigent circumstances, the threshold to a home may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.

"On some occasions, the law recognizes a constructive entry into the home even though the officers have not physically crossed the threshold. Of course, police officers may engage in consensual encounters with suspects without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment....

"(A) knock and talk (is) a legitimate investigative technique at the home of a suspect or an individual with information about an investigation.

A knock and talk typically involves an officer going to the front door to speak with the occupants, or asking for consent to search the premises.

"In any constitutional analysis, a consensual encounter in the course of a knock and talk may evolve into a constructive entry when the police, while not entering the house, deploy overbearing tactics that essentially force the individual out of the home. This occurs when a suspect emerges in response to coercive police conduct.

"The difference between a permissible consensual encounter and an impermissible constructive entry turns on the show of force exhibited by police."

In Luna-Martinez, Justice Canaday of the District Court of Appeal of Florida used slightly different words:

"A knock and talk encounter is a procedure ordinarily used by police officers to investigate a complaint where there is no probable cause for a search warrant.

"In employing this procedure, police officers knock on the door, try to make contact with persons inside, and talk to them about the subject of the complaints underlying the investigation. Such a consensual encounter may lead to a request by the police for voluntary consent to conduct a search.

"Courts generally have upheld the knock-and-talk investigative procedure as a legitimate effort to obtain a suspect's consent to search.

"The key to the legitimacy of the knock-and-talk technique - as well as any other technique employed to obtain consent to search - is the absence of coercive police conduct, including any express or implied assertion of authority to enter or authority to search. In properly initiating a knock-and-talk encounter, the police should not deploy overbearing tactics that essentially force the individual out of the home. Nor should overbearing tactics be employed in gaining entry to a dwelling or in obtaining consent to search."

REFERENCES:

  • Luna-Martinez v. State, 984 So. 2d 592 (2008)
  • Young v. City of Radcliff, 561 F. Supp. 2d 767 (2008)

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