Michigan v. Frederick (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
The scope of the implied license to approach a house and knock is time-sensitive; it generally does not extend to predawn approaches. While approaching a home with the purpose of gathering information is not, standing alone, a Fourth Amendment search. However, an information-gathering approach combined with a trespass is a Fourth Amendment search. Michael Frederick and Todd Van Doorne were separately charged with various drug offenses after seven officers from the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team made unscheduled visits to the defendants’ respective homes during predawn hours. Officers woke defendants and their families for the purpose of questioning each defendant about marijuana butter that they suspected the defendants possessed. Both defendants subsequently consented to a search of their respective homes, and marijuana butter and other marijuana products were recovered from each home. Defendants moved to suppress the evidence, and the trial court denied the motions, concluding that the officers had not conducted a search by knocking on defendants’ doors during the predawn hours and that the subsequent consent searches were valid. The Court of Appeals consolidated the two cases and issued a split opinion. The majority concluded that the officers’ predawn “knock and talk” visits were within the scope of the public’s implied license because homeowners would be unsurprised to find a predawn visitor delivering a newspaper or seeking emergency assistance, but the dissenting judge concluded that the police conduct violated the Fourth Amendment because the searches, which occurred during hours at which a homeowner would not expect visitors, were outside the scope of a proper knock and talk procedure. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the trial court to determine whether defendants’ consent to search was attenuated from the officers’ illegal search.