KY: Frat house is more like a home than an apartment building; warrantless entry here unlawful

Following other states, a university fraternity house is a “home” for Fourth Amendment purposes, not like a hotel or apartment building. The officer’s warrantless entry into the frat house was unreasonable. This started as a knock-and-talk, but nobody answered, so they entered through the door that was ajar. Milam v. Commonwealth, 2015 Ky. LEXIS 1617 (May 14, 2015):

In State v. Miller, the Ohio Court of Appeals concluded that “a fraternity house should be treated as a home for purposes of Fourth Amendment protections.” No. WD—10-027, 2011 WL 1167181, at *3 (Ohio App. March 31, 2011) (holding that the warrantless search of the fraternity house was unlawful); see also State v. Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, 491 N.E.2d 1129 (Ohio 1986). Other jurisdictions have reached the same conclusion. E.g., City of Fargo v. Lee, 580 N.W.2d 580 (N.D. 1998); Idol v. State, 119 N.E.2d 428 (Ind. 1954); State v. Houvener, 186 P.3d 370 (Wash. App. 2008).

The Commonwealth provides no contrary authority.

We agree with the instructive decisions presented by the Appellant and the reasons offered in support thereof. Therefore, we hold that a fraternity house is a private residence for purposes of Fourth Amendment protections. We must now determine whether the detectives exceeded the scope of a knock and talk in the context of a private residence.

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