Category Archives: Police Knock On Door

When Police Knock, Don’t Open The Door And Let Them See Or Smell Your Contraband

More often than ever before, police are showing up at northern Kentucky homes or places of business to “talk”.  These instances of contact with police officers are adversarial to your liberty and you should not engage with police officers without the presence of an attorney.  Police do not come to your home for coffee and small talk.  Remember, never make statements to the police.

According to the Kentucky Supreme Court, “the knock and talk procedure involves law enforcement officers approaching a home for the purpose of obtaining information about a crime that has been committed, a pending investigation, or matters of public welfare.”  In reality, if the police have the evidence to arrest you, they aren’t showing up to your house to knock and talk.  The sole purpose of the knock and talk is to get you to incriminate yourself and/or gain entry into your home so that they can gather enough evidence to arrest you and charge you with a crime.

It is perfectly within the law for a police officer to approach your front door.  Police know this and take advantage of the “free” access to place themselves just outside your home.  Just outside the front door of your home, where smells and sounds may drift unintentionally to the officers nose, ears, and eyesight.   In the case of Quintana v. Commonwealth, 276 S.W.3d 753, 758, 2008 Ky. LEXIS 260, 10 (Ky. 2008) the  Kentucky Supreme Court described the entrance to a person’s residence as being the point of access to the public.

“The main entrance to a home is so widely perceived by the public as the point of access for the public engaged in legitimate business, whether it is by pollsters, persons seeking assistance, postal carriers, delivery persons, or Girl Scouts selling cookies, that it amounts to common knowledge that the public may at least go up to a home’s front door, if the way is not barred. While such members of the public are not guaranteed access to the inside of the house, they may certainly approach the entrance and attempt to speak with the residents.”

It is assumed, by the law, that the public has the right to approach the front entrance of your residence and knock on the door.  You cannot expect your driveway, walkway, and front entrance to be private.   Police officers are afforded the same standing as the public. The officer who approaches the main entrance of your house has a right to be there, just as any member of the public might have. When a resident has no reasonable expectation to privacy if someone approaches his front door for a legitimate purpose, police officers may also so approach.   While on your property, police are free to keep their eyes, nose, and ears open to their surroundings.  The police do not need a search warrant to see, hear, or smell what any member of the general public may see, hear, or smell.

Any and all interactions between you and the police during a “knock and talk” are up to you.  It is a completely consensual situation.  If the police do not have a warrant to enter your house or any other exception or an emergency situation is not afoot, they must obtain your consent to enter or open your door.

Just as you are not required to answer your door or respond to questions when a door to door salesman comes knocking, so it is with a police officer, regardless of whether the failure to answer the door is intentional or the result of your inability to hear the knock.   Just as any member of the public can be told and required to leave your premises, so can an officer.

Seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer before you take your liberty in your own hands.