Curtilage vs. Automobile Exception: “[W]hen it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals.”

The United States Supreme Court recently released their decision in Collins v. Virginia. The issue presented was whether the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter the curtilage of a home in order to search a vehicle parked therein. The Court held that it does not, on the basis that curtilage is a part of the home and, therefore, cannot be entered without a warrant. So what is curtilage?

The “‘conception defining the curtilage’ is . . . familiar enough that it is ‘easily understood from our daily experience.’” Jardines, 569 U. S., at 7 (quoting Oliver, 466 U. S., at 182, n. 12). Just like the front porch, side garden, or area “outside the front window,” Jardines, 569 U. S., at 6, the driveway enclosure where Officer Rhodes searched the motorcycle constitutes “an area adjacent to the home and ‘to which the activity of home life extends,’” and so is properly considered curtilage, id., at 7 (quoting Oliver, 466 U. S., at 182, n. 12).

You know it when you see it. That’s the rule for now.