United States v. Perea-Rey

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 05-31-2012
  • Case #: 10-50632
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Wardlaw for the Court; Circuit Judge Goodwin and District Judge Sessions III
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Fourth Amendment's protections, agents do not need a warrant to observe inside the curtilage of the home but do need a warrant to enter into it. The "knock and talk" exception's constitutionality of curtilage entries is determined on whether “the officer’s actions are consistent with an attempt to initiate consensual contact with the occupants of the home" and not the "officer's subjective intent."

Heriberto Perea-Rey was indicted for harboring undocumented aliens. Border Patrol agents followed an undocumented man to Perea-Rey’s house where the man walked in through the front door and then to the carport. The agents then bypassed the front door and entered the curtilage of Perea-Ray's home through the carport. The district court found no reasonable expectation of privacy within the curtilage, which included the carport, because it could be viewed from the sidewalk and agents were able to freely enter into it. The Ninth Circuit noted that although agents did not need a warrant to observe inside the curtilage, the agents did need a warrant to enter the curtilage of the home. The Ninth Circuit also noted that the constitutionality of curtilage entries hinged on whether “the officer’s actions are consistent with an attempt to initiate consensual contact with the occupants of the home” and that the agent in this case was not reasonable in his “knock and talk” because he bypassed the front door and walked into the curtilage "where uninvited visitors would not be expected." The Ninth Circuit held that the warrantless intrusion into the curtilage and resulting search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment and that the District Court erred in denying Perea-Rey’s motion to suppress. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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