Court: Police Must Advise of Right to Warrantless Searches

MARCH 25, 2004 - Posted at 1:57 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A divided Arkansas Supreme Court ruled today that the intimidation of armed police officers at someone's doorstep makes a state law allowing them to enter with verbal consent unconstitutional.

The 4-to-3 decision upheld a Pope County ruling that police should have to advise residents of their right to refuse the police entry if they do not have a search warrant.

Justice Robert Brown wrote that Arkansas has always endorsed the principle of privacy within a citizen's home.  He said that was reason enough to go against a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the Fourth Amendment did not mean that police had to advise residents of their right to refusal.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Instead of the so-called "knock & talk" procedure of getting verbal consent to enter, now for the consent to be valid, a police office must say, "You have the right to refuse consent to this search."

Dissenting Justice Tom Glaze said the change was "totally unwarranted and unnecessary."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)