Post details: E.D.Mo.: Officer's pressing face against tinted living room window to see in didn't violate curtilage

02/23/13

Permalink 01:57:43 am, by fourth, 528 words, 917 views   English (US)
Categories: General

E.D.Mo.: Officer's pressing face against tinted living room window to see in didn't violate curtilage

Officer’s pressing face against defendant’s front window to see through heavily tinted glass did not violate defendant’s curtilage. Defendant testified to his expectation of privacy, which wasn't found. United States v. Glover, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23471 (E.D. Mo. February 14, 2013)*:

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The defendant's "curtilage" argument essentially focuses on the fourth Dunn factor, namely, the steps taken by the resident to protect the area from observation by people passing by. He claims in his motion that the home's windows "were tinted specifically to prevent persons outside from seeing in the home." However, no evidence was offered at the hearing as to the intent of the occupants in installing tinted windows at the residence. Absent such evidence one could just as easily infer that the tinted windows were installed to block the sun's rays. More likely, they were intended to do both. Numerous cases have held that no Fourth Amendment violation occurs when officers look into the window or door of a house in pursuit of some legitimate law enforcement objective even though they might be within curtilage of the property. See e.g. United States v. Hersch, 464 F.2d 228, 229-30 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1008 (1972) (Officers standing on front porch looked through window partially covered by drape); Nordskog v. Wainwright, 546 F.2d 69, 71-72 (5th Cir. 1977) (Officers peered into bedroom window and back door of residence); United States v. Anderson, 552 F.2d 1296, 1298-99 (8th Cir. 1977) (Officers looked into basement window partially covered by a shade); United States v. Daoust, 916 F.2d 757, 758 (1st Cir. 1990) (Officers looked into kitchen window at rear of house); United States v. Khabeer, 410 F.3d 477, 481-82 (8th Cir. 2005) (Officer looked into front window of home while standing on driveway).

The defendant argues that the looking into the window in this case was particularly intrusive because Officer Wassam could not see into the residence until he pressed his face against the window in order to see inside. (See defendant's Reply To The Government's Response To Defendant's Motion To Suppress Evidence, Docket No. 130, at P.2. Similar circumstances were presented in United States v. Garcia, 997 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1993). In Garcia officers went to an apartment to investigate a report that narcotics were being sold at the apartment. They went to the back of the apartment, walked onto the back porch area and approached the back door. There was a dark metallic screen door in the doorway. In order to look inside the apartment it was necessary for the officers to shade their eyes and press their faces against the screen door. Id. at 1276. They spoke to persons inside the residence through the door. As they did so they continued to do "their best to see through the darkened screen door." Id. at 1277. The officers saw incriminating evidence inside the apartment. The court held that "By standing on the back porch of (the apartment) and looking through the mesh screen door, the officers did not make an unlawful entry or conduct an unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment." Likewise, the undersigned concludes that there was no Fourth Amendment violation when Officer Wassam pressed his face against the tinted window and looked into the residence here.

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