M.D.La.: Driveway here was not Curtilage “intimately tied to the home”

Defendant’s driveway was not Curtilage “intimately tied to the home.” United States v. Martinez-Velazquez, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15723 (M.D. La. Jan. 28, 2021):

The Court finds that the deputies’ entry onto Defendant’s property was lawful. Defendant’s driveway and the yard in front of his house are not areas “so intimately tied to the home” that they are protected curtilage.

Like in Moffit, Defendant’s front yard is surrounded by a chain-link fence. However, the chain-link fence is see-through and does “not protect the yard from outside observation.” Deputies Lint and Sandoval both indicated in their testimony that they could see the Avalanche in the front yard from the public street. Further, when the deputies approached the property, the gate to the property was open. As in Moffitt, by leaving the gate open, Defendant “could not have reasonably expected to keep neighbors, door-to-door salespeople, and trick or treaters from driving or walking to his house and approaching his front door. It follows therefrom that if he has a reasonable expectation that various members of society may enter his property, he should find it equally likely that the police […] will do so.” Moffitt, 233 at 411-412. Therefore, the deputies’ initial entry onto Defendant’s front yard did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights as the yard is not an area “so intimately tied to the home” as to be protected curtilage.

For the same reasons, Defendant’s driveway is also not considered curtilage. See United States v. Beene, 818 F.3d 157, 162-163 (5th Cir. 2016); United States v. Ardoin, No. 10-29-JJB-CN, 2010 WL 4056191, at 2-3 (M.D. La. Oct. 14, 2010)). In Moffitt, the driveway found by the Court not to be entitled to Forth Amendment protection was “located directly next to the house.” Moffitt, 233 at 422. Here, there was some distance between the driveway where Defendant’s truck was parked and the front of the house. As such, neither the deputies’ initial entry onto Defendant’s front yard nor their initial encounter with Defendant in his driveway violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

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