E.D.Va.: Arrest at the threshold wasn’t an entry in violation of 4A

Police received a call about drug trafficking, and, when they arrived, they could smell marijuana. That was enough. “Jones unsuccessfully attempts to distinguish between possession of marijuana for commercial activity—i.e., selling it—and possession for personal use.” Officers knocked at the door, and defendant opened up. The video shows he was standing on the threshold when officers detained him, so they didn’t enter in violation of the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Jones, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26942 (E.D. Va. Feb. 16, 2018):

In any event, Santana does not appear to mandate the type of exacting frame-by-frame constitutional evaluation that Jones asks this Court to undertake. Not only would such an approach prove unmanageable but, more importantly, the court in Santana described “threshold” in broad terms that allow this Court to decide the case at bar. The Santana court called a threshold the entryway of a home where an occupant is “visible to the public [and] exposed to public view, speech, hearing, and touch.” Santana, 427 U.S. at 42. When Officer Myers grabbed Jones’s arm, Jones stood on the doorframe, with the open door at his back, fully visible to anyone on the street. Jones was in the “threshold” of his home as defined by Santana when the officers detained him, meaning that his detention did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

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