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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Supreme Court Addresses "Knock and Talk" Exception to 4th Amendment

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the “knock and talk” police procedure that provides an exception to the Fourth Amendment right to privacy.  Specifically, the Court determined that there is no established rule in place that restricts police to approach only the front door of a private home when investigating a possible crime.  The case is Carroll v. Carmon (Nov. 10, 2014), which reached the Supreme Court by way of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Two Pennsylvania state troopers had gone to the Carman’s home after receiving a tip that a man, who allegedly had stolen a car and two loaded handguns, was at that home. The officers parked their car at the side of the house, and noticed that there was a back door, opening onto a rear porch.  Officer Carroll would say later that he thought that “looked like a customary entryway,” so the two officers approached that door.  With Mrs. Carman’s permission, the two officers searched the house, but did not find the suspect. The troopers then left, and the Carmans sued, claiming a violation of their privacy because the police approached the back door, instead of the front door.  The 3rd Circuit ruled in their favor, finding that the so-called “knock and talk” exception to the Fourth Amendment privacy guarantee “requires that police officers begin their encounter at the front door, where they have an implied invitation to go.”

The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed that the officers’ conduct violated the Carman’s privacy.  The Court stated that there is no “front door” rule that would preclude officers from approaching the back door for a “knock and talk.”   The case was then remanded to the 3rd Circuit to determine whether the officer was immune from a civil rights lawsuit.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

1 comment:

  1. This is a good article on knock and talk intrusions. There was a similar case in Utah recently.