Police “Knock and Talks” – a quick refresher

A recent case out of Alberta (R. v. Tran 2013 ABQB 188) has yet again brought about the debate of police “Knock and Talks”.  Another Alberta case, R. v. Oulton 2011 ABQB 243, provided a survey of cases that have considered this legal concept.  The main case, of course, is the Supreme Court of Canada case of R. v. Evans 1996 SCC 1.  In Evans, the SCC stated that the common law has long recognized an implied licence for all members of the public, including police, to approach the door of a residence and knock.  The law is clear that the occupier of a dwelling gives implied licence to any member of the public, including a police officer, on legitimate business to come on to the property. The implied licence ends at the door of the dwelling.  Where the police act in accordance with this implied invitation, they cannot be said to intrude upon the privacy of the occupant. The implied invitation, unless rebutted by a clear expression of intent, effectively waives the privacy interest that an individual might otherwise have in the approach to the door of his or her dwelling.  Evans illustrated the difference between police approaching a residence for the purposes of communication and investigation and approaching a residence to gather evidence.

Oulton reiterated that, “What emerges from these cases is that if the trial judge finds that the police knock on the door for the purpose of making an arrest, conducting a search, or acting on a suspicion or hunch, there will be a breach of Charter s. 8. If, on the other hand, the police knock on the door for the sole purpose of communicating with the occupants in furtherance of an investigation, they are acting within their implied license to knock, and they will not be breaching Charter s. 8.”

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Filed under Recent Case Law, Search and Seizure

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