McKenna on KIRO: No-warrant driveway searches for stolen vehicles?

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KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about a case in Virginia where police, thinking a suspect possessed a stolen motorcycle, entered a property without a warrant and looked under a cover to find the stolen bike. It was parked under an enclosure that the defendant argues was part of the home, and so should definitely be covered by the 4th Amendment’s protections against unlawful search and seizure.

Rob McKenna: “Our word of the day, by the way, for listeners keeping track, is curtilage.”

Dave Ross: “Curtilage?”

Rob McKenna: “Curtilage: ‘The motorcycle was parked in the curtilage of the home.’ In other words, on the property that includes the home, the garage, the driveway, the yard.

“So this is a tougher case than if the motorcycle had been parked inside the garage, because it’s in the curtilage. So what the defendant is saying is, ‘Hey, you need to treat the curtilage as if it’s part of the home and there’s a strong privacy interest here.’

“But the State of Virginia is arguing, ‘Well, look, it shouldn’t make much difference whether the motorcycle is parked in the driveway or down on the street. It’s mobile in either case, and the exigency circumstance, where we’re worried it’s going to disappear, applies in both cases.’”

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