Castle with police lights behind it.

The curious case of curtilage.

United States v. Banks (7th Cir. 2023) emphasizes the importance of securing a warrant when conducting a search, even if there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is being committed. The case involved a police officer seeing a convicted felon with a gun in a Snapchat post and subsequently going to his house without a warrant. After a struggle, the officers found a loaded gun and ammunition on Banks. Banks argued that the officers’ intrusion on his porch without a warrant was unlawful, and although his initial motion was denied, it was later overturned on appeal. The court reiterated that a person’s home is entitled to a high degree of protection under the Fourth Amendment, and the front porch of a residence is generally considered part of the curtilage that requires a warrant, consent, or some other Fourth Amendment exception. The case serves as a reminder that Fourth Amendment protections apply not only to a person’s home but also to the curtilage surrounding it, including the front porch, and that a simple search warrant could have easily avoided the suppression of evidence.

California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, know as CalECPA or ECPA, effects search warrants.

Navigating ECPA: the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) is a comprehensive privacy law that protects citizens and guides law enforcement towards judicial oversight. Introduced in 2012, CalECPA covers communication, data stored within electronic devices, and a person’s location. It ensures that individuals are notified when their online records, such as social media accounts, are targeted by search warrants. CalECPA emphasizes search warrants as the preferred method for collecting digital evidence, with judicial review serving as a safeguard for citizens’ privacy.