October 22, 2014

What to do During a Police “Knock and Talk”

Esteemed criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Bill Buckman offers up another reasons to be wary of speaking to the police, particularly if suspected of growing marijuana:

Here in NJ, police euphemistically call one of their marijuana related operations a “knock and talk”, though it can often be anything but. When police suspect that marijuana may be grown in a household, they organize multiple agencies to “respond” on a predetermined date and time to the location – a show of force. (Indeed during cross examination police have conceded that a “ knock and talk” is organized just as a forcible search warrant raid would be.)

It usually goes down like this: Police have only a mere suspicion that folks are growing marijuana in their homes. Maybe they have been tipped off by informants at a growing supply store (which, of course, sell an entire range of legal articles) or maybe the police have done an illegal drive-by thermal imaging of a house to see if heat from some kind of grow situation exists.

(As an aside, its illegal for police to do a thermal imaging scan of a home without a warrant. But if they do perform one and then intimidate the owners to “consent to a search,” the illegality often goes by the wayside, as the law will see the consent as “ curing” the illegality.)

In any event, for the “ knock and talk,” police show up in force. Some go to each entry or exit of the residence. (Query if its just a knock and talk, by virtue of what right would cops have to stop anyone from leaving the house and refusing to talk. None, really). Yet too often faced with intentional, intimidating show of force, people often “consent” to let police in their homes. At that point, cops usually talk the occupants into signing a “consent to search form” by misleading them. Once signed, the form will allow police to search all areas of the residence and every nook and cranny, totally tossing the contents about if the police wish.

The best advice to deal with a “knock and talk” is to simply not open the door and certainly not to allow police the consent to search the home. When speaking with police, one should be extremely hesitant to sign anything, like a consent from, without a lawyer present. Since police have no search warrant when conducting a knock and talk, it is not necessary to open the door. One could speak through the door if he or she wishes. Stories are legion about how, once inside the house, police allege that they smell marijuana and can then get an actual warrant.

The “knock and talk” is a bit of NJ legal schizophrenia. Because of proven abuses with racial profiling, police need a reasonable basis to even ask to search a car. But, our Supreme Court has reasoned, the home was not the site of such abuses – despite the inherently intimidating and abusive nature of the “knock and talk.”

Lastly, it bears repeating that purchasers of growing equipment, even online, have been regularly subjected to “knock and talks.” In fact, to help shed light on the issue, it would be helpful to start gathering details of “knock and talks” that netted nothing other than legal indoor growing materials.

 

Bill Buckman is hailed as one of the most skillful, tenacious and dedicated criminal-defense attorneys in New Jersey. He is also a seasoned civil rights lawyer with a comprehensive list of successful cases that have received nationwide attention. Mr. Buckman has kept a constant focus on the relationship between the individual and large organizations, particularly government. To find out more about Mr. Buckman or his services in and around Moorestown, New Jersey, please visit his website.

Interview: Cop Honors Fallen Partner by Working to Legalize

Neill Franklin speaking in Philadelphia - by C. David Freitag

5/13/2011 - Tonight in Washington DC there was a memorial for police officers killed in the line of duty. One of those keeping vigil was Neill Franklin. He worked undercover on the streets of Baltimore but now he is one of America’s leading voices calling for an end to the war on drugs as the executive director of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. [Read more...]

How To Talk to an Undercover Cop at a Marijuana Rally

NYC Cannabis Peace March lands in Foley Square on May 7, 2011

 

He was about 50, heavyset, with cropped grey hair. He wore a button-down short-sleeved shirt, cheap jeans and white New Balance sneakers. His eyes were completely hidden by a pair of knockoff reflective shades – the ‘alien eye’ variety. He had an earpiece with a cable that led to his cell phone. And he was walking along in the NYC Cannabis Peace March, with hundreds of loud pot protestors.

There was one big difference between this man and the rest of the crowd: he was an undercover cop. What happened when I confronted him cuts to the core of why cannabis prohibition must end. [Read more...]

Attorney: Just Say No to Police

Bill Buckman at the PhillyNORML Freedom Forum 2009

William Buckman is a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey who recently published an excellent blog about how to handle police encounters:  Always Remain Silent… What To Do When Questioned By Police.  Bill is a prominent member of the national NORML Legal Committee and serves on the Board of Directors at NORML-NJ. The wisdom he shares is important reading for all cannabis consumers.

From In Bill’s Words March 2011 - I have practiced criminal law for over 30 years. I am still mystified as to why people under investigation speak to police. To try to help my clients I have placed on the back of my card the following:

My lawyer has told me not to talk to anyone about my case, not to answer questions, and not to reply to accusations. Call my lawyer if you want to ask me questions, search me or my property, do any tests, do any lineups, or any other identification procedures. I do not agree to any of these things without my lawyer present and I do not want to waive any of my constitutional rights. If I am being charged with DUI, I agree to a breath test.

Unfortunately too many people reach my office after they have spoken. [Read more...]