MO: Chicken coop inside barbed wire fence tho 100′ from house within curtilage

Defendant’s chicken coop with drugs inside was a fair distance from the house, but it was still within the curtilage. Applying all the Dunn factors, they favor defendant. It was inside a primary barbed wire fence and the contents weren’t visible. State v. Pierce, 2016 Mo. App. LEXIS 864 (Sept. 6, 2016):

Similarly, Mr. Pierce’s 3.9-acre property is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and the coop is located within 100 yards of the residence and is within that fence. Pierce took a number of steps to demonstrate his expectation of privacy, including posting no trespassing signs at two driveways and denying police officers permission to search his residence without a warrant on prior occasions. Although a fence alone is not sufficient to delineate curtilage, it strongly suggests the desire of the property owner for privacy, which the Fourth Amendment is designed to protect. Such a desire was demonstrated here.

The third factor, the nature of the uses to which the area is put, also favors Pierce. Based on the record before us, the coop was being used for intimate activities of the home, i.e. keeping chickens. See Dunn, 480 U.S. at 302. Although the chicken coop was empty at the time of the search, Mr. Pierce testified at trial that the chickens were all killed or stolen just two or three weeks prior the search at issue. The recent use of the coop reflects its use for an intimate domestic purpose.

The final factor, which addresses steps taken by homeowners to protect the area from observation of people passing by, also favors Mr. Pierce. Although the coop was visible from the perimeter fence, it was enclosed on three sides. The open side was only visible from the residence, the contents of the coop hidden from prying eyes that might be present on the perimeter of the property.

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