State v. Piland, ___ N.C. App. ___, 822 S.E.2d 876 (Dec. 18, 2018)

In this drug case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. After receiving a tip that the defendant was growing marijuana at his home, officers drove there for a knock and talk. They pulled into the driveway and parked in front of the defendant’s car, which was parked at the far end of the driveway, beside the home. The garage was located immediately to the left of the driveway. An officer went to the front door to knock, while two detectives remained by the garage. A strong odor of marijuana was coming from the garage area. On the defendant’s front door was a sign reading “inquiries” with his phone number, and a second sign reading “warning” with a citation to several statutes. As soon as the defendant opened the front door, an officer smelled marijuana. The officer decided to maintain the residence pending issuance of a search warrant. After the warrant was obtained, a search revealed drugs and drug paraphernalia.

            The court began by rejecting the defendant’s argument that the officers engaged in an unconstitutional search and seizure by being present in his driveway and lingering by his garage. Officers conducting a knock and talk can lawfully approach a home so long as they remain within the permissible scope afforded by the knock and talk. Here, given the configuration of the property any private citizen wishing to knock on the defendant’s front door would drive into the driveway, get out, walk between the car and the path so as to stand next to the garage, and continue on the path to the front porch. Therefore, the officers’ conduct, in pulling into the driveway by the garage, getting out of their car, and standing between the car and the garage, was permitted. Additionally the officers were allowed to linger by the garage while their colleague approached the front door. Thus, “the officers’ lingering by the garage was justified and did not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment.”

            The court went hold that by failing to raise the issue at the trial level, the defendant failed to preserve his argument that he revoked the officers’ implied license through his signage and that by ignoring this written revocation, the officers of violated the fourth amendment.