Police cannot enter your porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity. Curtilage.

In April 2021 the Springfield, Illinois police saw a Snapchat post of Jeremy Banks barbequing on his front porch with a gun sitting on the grill’s side shelf. Because Banks was a convicted felon, the officers needed nothing more to request a warrant to arrest him for unlawful gun possession. But they skipped this step and instead proceeded to Banks’s home, walked onto his porch, and, after a tussle, arrested him in his family room. The Fourth Amendment did not permit the shortcut, as the Supreme Court has held in no uncertain terms that a front porch—part of a home’s so-called curtilage—receives the same protection as the home itself. And no exception to the warrant requirement saves the officers’ actions here.

By its terms, the Fourth Amendment protected Jeremy Banks’s right “to be secure” in his “hous[e]” from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. At the “very core” of that protection, the Supreme Court has emphasized, stands “the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.” Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 511, 81 S.Ct. 679, 5 L.Ed.2d 734 (1961). Indeed, when measuring the strength of the Fourth Amendment, “the home is first among equals.” Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. 1, 6, 133 S.Ct. 1409, 185 L.Ed.2d 495 (2013). This principle finds deep roots in the common law backdrop against which the Fourth Amendment entered the U.S. Constitution in 1791. See, e.g., Semayne’s Case (1604) 77 Eng. Rep. 194, 195; 5 Co. Rep. 91 a, 91 b (KB) (“[T]he house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defen[s]e against injury and violence, as for his repose.”).

By 1984 the Supreme Court made plain that the Fourth Amendment provides equal protection to a home’s curtilage, the area immediately surrounding the home itself. See Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 180, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80 L.Ed.2d 214 (1984). “[P]rivacy expectations are most heightened” in the curtilage, because that area is “intimately linked to the home, both physically and psychologically.” California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 213, 106 S.Ct. 1809, 90 L.Ed.2d 210 (1986). And the right to retreat into the home “would be of little practical value if the State’s agents could stand in a home’s porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity.” Jardines, 569 U.S. at 6, 133 S.Ct. 1409. Put even more directly, the curtilage is “part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.” Id. (quoting Oliver, 466 U.S. at 180, 104 S.Ct. 1735).

United States v. Banks, No. 22-1312, 2023 WL 1956605, at *2 (7th Cir. Feb. 13, 2023)

Full case here: United States v. Banks, No. 22-1312 (7th Cir. 2023), https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca7/22-1312/22-1312-2023-02-13.html

See: Can police have their K9 sniff at your front door without a warrant? Florida v. Jardines., https://youtu.be/7jb5-4tblj0

See: Can police come to your house, lift the motorcycle cover, and run the plates? | Collins v. Virginia, https://youtu.be/ZQ-BckaR4IQ

See: Police can’t snoop around your front yard & peer into your windows for 15 minutes without a warrant., https://youtu.be/W31wDbQzchg

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
(619) 357-6677

Do you want to buy our Lawstache merchandise? Maybe a t-shirt?

Want to mail me something (usually mustache related)? Send it to 185 West F Street, Suite 100-D, San Diego, CA 92101

Want to learn about our recent victories?

Are you are a Russian speaker? Вы говорите по-русски?

Based in San Diego, CA
Licensed: California, Nevada, and Federal Courts

The San Diego-based business litigation and criminal defense attorneys at LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM are experienced and dedicated professionals singularly focused on one goal: achieving the best results for our clients. Through our hard work and expertise, we guarantee all of our clients that we will diligently protect their rights and zealously pursue justice. Our clients deserve nothing less!