Curtilage is defined as – an area of land attached to a house and forming one enclosure with it. So, does a person potentially have greater privacy rights protecting areas that are not necessarily inside the home but is – for all intents and purposes – connected to it? The US Supreme Court says yes to that query in reversing the Virginia Appellate Courts’ ruling upholding a trial court’s admission of evidence in violation of our constitutional search and seizure laws.
The case at issue involved a police officer that had determined from photographs posted on a suspect’s Facebook page that a stolen motorcycle involved in two incidents was parked on the suspect’s property. The officer went to the suspect’s residence and saw what appeared to be the stolen motorcycle. The motorcycle wasn’t necessarily sitting out in the open, however. It was under a white tarp parked inside a partially enclosed area that abutted the suspect’s home. The officer, without a search warrant, went to the top of the suspect’s driveway and removed the white tarp to get a better look at the motorcycle. Ultimately the officer confirmed that indeed it was the stolen motorcycle in question. At trial the suspect’s defense counsel moved to suppress evidence based on the officer’s unlawful search of the suspect’s property. The trial court denied the defense’s motion and the Virginia Appellate Court’s sided with the trial court and upheld its ruling. The US Supreme Court accepted review and held (with a few dissents for good measure) in Collins v. Virginia, 584 U.S. ___ (2018) that the automobile exception is not a categorical exception to our Fourth Amendment protections and thus found the search was unlawful. A person thus may very well have greater privacy rights protecting areas that are not necessarily inside his home but for all intents and purposes is connected to it.
When charged with a crime, it is a very smart idea to immediately hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.