Police are not required to corroborate information from an anonymous tip before asking a homeowner’s permission to search a residence, the California Supreme Court ruled yeserday. The San Diego Union-Tribune said the unanimous decision involved a common police tactic known as “knock and talk.” Police go to a home, knock on the door, and ask if they can come in and conduct a search. If consent is given, police need not obtain a search warrant. The tactic allows them to act on anonymous information without first confirming it. The ruling is believed to be the first time the high court has said “knock and talk” doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment if the homeowner allows police in.
The defendant’s attorneys argued that evidence obtained in the search should have been suppressed because the anonymous and uncorroborated tip didn’t justify the search that led to the man’s arrest. Associate Justice Carol Corrigan said police don’t have to verify a tip before knocking on a door and asking permission to search. “To require that officers corroborate an anonymous tip before approaching a residence to speak with its occupants requires a level of suspicion that has never been an element of consensual encounters,” she said.