The Fourth Amendment protection of every American has just gotten stronger
as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police may not the area around a
private home without a warrant. Additionally, the justices said that the
automobile exception does not apply when searching vehicles next to a home.
The court sided 8-1 last week with Ryan Collins, a Virginia native, who
complained that law enforcement walked onto his driveway and pulled back
a tarp covering his motorcycle, which was actually reported stolen. Police
conducted the search without a warrant and arrested Collins and charged
him with receiving stolen property and convicted.
When the case (Collins v. Virginia) was brought to the Supreme Court, the
decision was reversed. Writing for the court majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor
stated that the private area surrounding the house, commonly known as
the curtilage, is an extension of the home itself and cannot be searched
without a warrant.
Police relied on the line of Supreme Court cases generally allowed them
to search a vehicle without a warrant. However, the court rejected law
enforcement’s contention, noting that the power to search a motor
vehicle does not extend to the area around the house.
In the past, the Supreme Court ruled that police could search a vehicle
without a warrant if they had probable cause to believe the evidence of
a crime can be found inside the vehicle. Yet, the issue of this was how
far this argument can go in removing the requirement for a warrant in
the driveway of a private home.
For more information,
Bryan criminal defense attorney at
The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. today.