curtilage – the land or yard adjoining a house, usually within an enclosure; it is protected by the 4th Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable warrantless searches

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1. The land or yard adjoining a house, usually within an enclosure.  *  Under the Fourth Amendment,, the curtilage is an area usually protected from warrantless ]searches. — aka (in Latin) curtillium. [1]

1. The open space situated within a common enclosure belonging to a dwelling house. Anno: 38 ALR2d 848; 13 Am J2d Burgl § 5.

Such space as is necessary and convenient, and is habitually used, for family purposes, and the carrying on of domestic employments, including a yard, a garden, or even a nearby field used in connection with the dwelling. 5 Am J2d Arson § 1.

For the purpose of determining the existence of a right of self defense, the “curtilage” fo the home will ordinarily be construed to include at least the yard around the dwelling house, as well as the area occupied by the barn s, cribs, and other outbuildings. State v Frizzelle, 243 NC 49, 89 SE2d 725, 52 ALR2d 1455. [2]

1. The open space around a house located within a common enclosure; a yard bordered by a fence or hedge. [3]

1. n. [Anglo-French curtillage enclosed land belonging to a house, kitchen garden, from Old French cortillage kitchen garden, from cortil garden, ultimately from Latin cohort-, cohors farmyard] : the area surrounding and associated with a home.  *  The curtilage of a house is included in the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. [4]

1. At common law the land around the dwelling house; “a piece of ground within the common enclosure belonging to a dwelling-house, and enjoyed with it, for its more convenient occupation.” 29 N.J.L. 468, 474.

Land found to constitute curtilage is protected under the constitutional prohibition against searches and seizures. 313 A. 2d 730, 732. [5]

Related Terms:

messuage – a dwelling house together with the curtilage, including any outbuildings; all protected by the 4th Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

Related Doctrines:

open fields doctrine:

1. Criminal procedure. The rule permitting a warrantless search of the area outside a property owner’s curtilage; the principle that no one has a reasonable expectation of privacy in anything in plain sight.  *  Unless there is some other legal basis for the search, it must exclude the home and any adjoining land (such as a yard) that is within an enclosure or otherwise protected from public scrutiny. — aka open-field doctrine; open-fields rule.  Cf. PLAIN-VIEW DOCTRINE. [1]

Also See:

Search and Seizure
reasonable or unreasonable?


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law Revised (2011) ISBN 978-0-87779-719-7.

[5]: Barron’s Law Dictionary Third Edition by Steven H. Gifis (1975, 1991). ISBN0-8120-4633-1.


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