question.jpgIn Criminal Law

Can police search around my home without a warrant?

Whether area around a home or a dwelling can be searched without a warrant depends on whether it falls under the legal term, “curtilage.” Curtilage is considered a private area subject to search warrants. Whether the area around your home is considered curtilage for legal reasons depends on several factors, including 1) does the area reveal intimate details connected to the use of the home; 2) is the area included within an enclosure (such as a fence) that surrounds the home; 3) how the area is used; 4) whether the area is open to the public; and 5) are steps made to protect the area from observation. Typically, a fenced in area that cannot be seen by passersby would be considered curtilage, and police officers would need a warrant to search the area. However, courts have ruled that partially covered greenhouses that could be observed from a helicopter do not constituted curtilage; likewise, open fields are not subject to search warrant requirements.