Distinguishing Open Fields From Curtilage
While open fields are not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the curtilage, or outdoor area immediately surrounding the home, may be protected. Courts have treated this area as an extension of the house and as such subject to all the privacy protections afforded a person’s home (unlike a person's open fields) under the Fourth Amendment. An area is curtilage if it "harbors the intimate activity associated with the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life." Courts make this determination by examining "the proximity of the area claimed to be curtilage to the home, whether the area is included within an enclosure surrounding the home, the nature of the uses to which the area is put, and the steps taken by the resident to protect the area from observation by people passing by." Theoretically, many structures might extend the curtilage protection to the areas immediately surrounding them. The courts have gone so far as to treat a tent as a home for Fourth Amendment purposes in the past. (Note: these are 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cases and would not be binding authority in many, if not most, cases.) It is possible that the area immediately surrounding a tent (or any structure used as a home) might be considered curtilage.
Despite this rather broad interpretation of curtilage, the courts seem willing to find areas to be outside of the curtilage if they are in any way separate from the home (by a fence, great distance, other structures, even certain plants).
Read more about this topic: Open Fields Doctrine
Famous quotes containing the words fields and/or open:
“I respect not his labors, his farm where everything has its price, who would carry the landscape, who would carry his God, to market, if he could get anything for him; who goes to market for his god as it is; on whose farm nothing grows free, whose fields bear no crops, whose meadows no flowers, whose trees no fruit, but dollars; who loves not the beauty of his fruits, whose fruits are not ripe for him till they are turned to dollars. Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“A soul that makes virtue its companion is like an over-flowing well, for it is clean and pellucid, sweet and wholesome, open to all, rich, blameless and indestructible.”
—Epictetus (c. 50120)