What is a knock-and-talk?
Law-enforcement officers seek permission to search homes when they don't have enough evidence for a search warrant. Lawyers say the "requests" often sound like orders. The law does not require police to advise residents of their right to refuse. Simply opening a door to officers' knocks gives them grounds to make an arrest based on anything illegal they see or smell inside.
Though knock-and-talks happen daily across Central Florida, civil libertarians and some lawyers criticize the use of these controversial doorstep encounters — especially if they occur after dark.
"You have to wonder if it's a wise policy. … Going to the house at that time of the morning is inherently dangerous for the officers and the residents," said Doug Ward, director of a police-leadership program at Johns Hopkins University who served 27 years with the Maryland State Police. "It's very lucky that that turned out as well as it did."
More people might decline these searches if cops had to inform them of the right to refuse, said Florida State University College of Law Associate Dean Wayne Logan. "Unlike Miranda, police don't have to advise homeowners of their Fourth Amendment rights," he said.
And once residents let officers in, they have little recourse if police ransack their homes or violate their rights, said Orlando defense attorney Donald A. Lykkebak. "The smart thing to do is insist they get a warrant."