Let’s be blunt. Police make a living at arresting people. And, they have a bag of tricks to make that happen. Deception is part of law enforcement training and tactics. I read an article from a police magazine where the subtitle stated: “Sometimes you have to resort to trickery to get confessions from suspects.” Well, sometimes their tricks get innocent people arrested. See my articles Police Trickery: The False Evidence Ploy | How It Hurts the Innocent And Impacts A Jury and The Psychology of False Confessions. In this article, I’m going to talk about what I call the “Two Step” and what is commonly known as the “Knock and Talk.”
“Although Trooper Dean had no intention of letting White and Richardson leave, Dean used the old highway patrol “two-step” in an attempt to get White to consent to further questioning and perhaps a search of the vehicle.”
–10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Ebel in U.S. v. White
The “Two Step” Consensual Encounter
There’s a little trick that police use after they tell you that you’re just getting a minor ticket or a warning from a traffic infraction. It’s sometimes referred to as a two-step. It involves what’s called a consensual encounter. A consensual encounter is a voluntary cooperation with law enforcement in response to non-coercive questioning. It occurs when a person is not in police custody. Because the person is not in custody, the police do not have to read Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” etc.). Here’s an example of what that situation might look like:
Trooper: Okay, sir. Here’s your driver’s license and insurance verification back. And here’s your warning.
Driver (sitting in the front passenger seat of the patrol car): Alright. Thank you.
Trooper: You’re welcome. Have a safe one. … Oh, can I ask you a question?
Trooper: Do you have anything illegal in your car? Weed? Drugs? Anything like that?
Driver: No. You can search if you want.
This type of interaction happens all of the time. By the way, the best criminal defense attorney Tulsa has will tell you to never talk to police. Talking to the police cannot help you. It will only hurt you. See my article on the Top 10 Reasons Not To Talk To Police.
How to Beat the Two Step Trick
You do not have to talk to police. In fact, you shouldn’t talk to the police. If an officer wants to ask you a question say “NO.” Do it politely but be firm. If the officer tries to keep talking to you, ask him if you are being detained. If he says that you are not, leave. You cannot help yourself by talking to police. During a consensual encounter, police are trying to gather more information from you to justify a search of your person, vehicle or home, etc. Ultimately, they are trying to gather more information from you so that they can justify arresting you. You can help yourself by saying nothing.
The Knock and Talk
“[W]hether the person who knocks on the door and requests the opportunity to speak is a police officer or a private citizen, the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak.” – The U.S. Supreme Court in Kentucky v. King
Law enforcement agencies get information every day from Tip Lines, calls to the police station, or social media sites. These tipsters are telling law enforcement that they believe someone in their neighborhood or who they know is selling drugs or engaged in other illegal activity. Without probable cause or a search warrant, law enforcement cannot go into the home and conduct a search for contraband or illegal activity. But there is one method that they can use. It’s called the knock and talk.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized three types of police-citizen encounters:
- Consensual encounters, which do not involve the Fourth Amendment;
- Investigative detentions, which are Fourth Amendment seizures of limited scope and duration and must be supported by a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; and
- Arrests, the most intrusive of Fourth Amendment seizures and reasonable only if supported by probable cause.
Like the Two Step, the Knock and Talk is a consensual encounter. With information that a person or home may possess illegal drugs or other contraband, law enforcement knows that they cannot conduct a search without a warrant, probable cause or consent. So, here’s what they will do. Law enforcement will walk to the front door and knock on it. This is to try to engage the occupant in a conversation. Here’s an example of how that might go:
Officer: Hello, I’m Officer Dogood. This is Officer Nogood. We got some information that your growing marijuana inside your home. You mind if we take a look?
First, you have a knock. Second, you have a talk. Now, the officer wants to get to the third part – consent. The officer’s goal is to get the occupant of the home to consent to a search. If they get consent, they don’t have to get a search warrant. And the bad news is, if officers see or find anything illegal during the search, they can confiscate it and use it to prosecute the home’s occupant. They could even use what they find to prosecute others who may be implicated by what the police find. Knock and talks aren’t limited to just homes. They can apply to occupants of a vehicle as well.
How to Beat the Knock and Talk
Again, the best criminal defense attorney Tulsa has will tell you not to talk to police. In fact, The U. S. Supreme Court has held that you don’t even have to open up the door to your residence if police merely want to talk to you and don’t have a warrant or probable cause to search. So how do you beat the knock and talk to trick? It’s simple. Don’t open the door, and don’t talk to law enforcement. This assumes that the police did not have a search warrant. If they do have a search warrant, you must open the door. But you are not obligated to talk to law enforcement.
Can the Cale Law Office Help?
Anyone arrested after a two-step or knock and talk needs the best criminal defense attorney Tulsa has to offer. Call the Cale Law Office at 918-277-4800 to schedule your free initial consultation with attorney Stephen Cale. Attorney Cale is a skilled criminal lawyer. He has nearly two decades of experience. Plus, he dedicates his practice to criminal defense. Attorney Stephen Cale is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who looks for ways to get evidence thrown out. This is a great benefit to his clients because it may result in getting charges dismissed.