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When is the 4th Amendment Applied? – Open Fields

Many of the current blog postings are related to the 4th Amendment, protection from unlawful searches and seizures. In the previous “When is the 4th Amendment Applied?” post, the first category of applicability was discussed. The second category is referred as Open Field v. Curtilage. Curtilage is defined as an area around the house to which the activity of the home extends. Extent of curtilage is determined by factors that bear upon whether an individual reasonably expects privacy as to that in a home. The following are examples which fall under expectation of privacy.

  1. The proximity of the area claimed to be curtilage around the home.
  2. Whether an area is included with an enclosure surrounding the home.
  3. How the area is being used.
  4. Steps taken by the owner to protect that area from other people.

In State v. Kelly (2003), it was determined that any visible thing/place seen by the public eye located on the grounds of a homes is subject to a reasonable search and seizure. In Hester v. US (1924), it was determined that an open field is subject to a reasonable search and seizure. The 4th Amendment only protects persons, houses, papers, and effects. Similarly, In Oliver v. US (1984), it was determined that a barn or field is subject to a reasonable search and seizure. Keep in mind, either a valid search warrant or reasonable suspicion a crime is being or will be committed is needed for a reasonable search and seizure.

Your home and the immediate area surrounding your home is a place of expected privacy and thus, there is standing to evoke your 4th Amendment rights when defending an search and seizure thought to be unreasonable.

St. Louis, Missouri Search & Seizure Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been product of an unlawful search and seizure or have questions regarding what stands for a reasonable search and seizure, our attorney’s can help. Call Henderson Law Group to schedule a free consultation 24/7.