CRIMINAL DEFENSE: 4th Amendment Issues of Curtilage and Dominion & Control.

Apex Law Service: 4th Amendment Issues.

Hi, James Polk here with Apex Law Service. is our website and we do outsourced paralegal work in the criminal defense arena for Attorneys who hire us to find Clients who need to defend themselves against criminal charges.  If you’re a Client and you need to hire an Attorney you can hire us first and then what we do is we do paralegal hours at a lower rate than most Law Firms.  We charge $150 an hour whereas most Law Firms charge up to $280 dollars an hour.  The Attorneys charge $300 to $350 an hour depending on if it’s the main Attorney or an Associate Attorney.A newer pair of Supreme Court rulings which both have to do with the 4th Amendment and Vehicle Searches, but with very different circumstances are Collins v. Virginia (2018) and Byrd v. United States (2018).  These two cases were brought to my attention when I found an interesting 2017 article on the website about upcoming Supreme Court Decisions regarding the 4th Amendment.  The Article left me with a cliffhanger, so I decided to write a small synopsis of the cases for you.  Here they are.

Collins v. Virginia (2018) is a case involving a motorcyclist going approximately 140 mph and a police officer who looses the guy but then finds a motorcycle at the top of a driveway under a tarp.  The police officer lifts up the tarp and sees the same license plate from a picture the officer was able to capture even though the rider was going 140 mph.  The argument was over whether the automobile exception to the 4th Amendment requirement for a search warrant or the curtilage rule with respect to the 4th Amendment was the weightier legal principle.  Exigent circumstances were affirmed by the State Appeals Court, but not affirmed by the Supreme Court and so they were not at issue in the Supreme Court Ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the Curtilage Rule, which dictates that the immediate surrounding area around a house is the same as a house with respect to the legal requirement for a law enforcement officer to obtain a search warrant to search the area, guides the case and not the vehicle exception.  The basic reasoning is that the case would create a bad precedent for an intrusion into the law pertaining to privacy within curtilage area.   Justice Samuel Alito was the dissent and he argued that it was completely reasonable to lift the tarp.  Maybe like the Concurring Opinion in the case Illinois v. Perkins some jurisdiction (in this instance Florida) will be influenced by the dissent and it will become part of that State’s case law (the Florida Case is Voltaire v. State (1997)), but for now the rule stands that a vehicle within the curtilage is covered under the Curtilage Rule and not the Vehicle Exception.

Byrd v. United States (2018) is a case about a man who was pulled over in a rental car with his hands at the 10-2 driving position for those two very reasons.  It just seemed oddly anxious if you will and suspicious due to the car being a rental.  The man was searched and his trunk was searched revealing heroin and body armor.  The case was ultimately fought based on the opposing arguments about whether consent was required to search the trunk of a  rental vehicle driven by a person not on the rental agreement.  The police say Byrd consented, but Byrd contends that he did not.  The ruling came down that though he was not on the rental agreement, the fact that the person who was on the rental agreement had the right to allow Byrd to drive and therefore Byrd had a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Byrd had complete and total legal dominion and control of the vehicle since it was not stolen.

A newer case related to the above cases is Lange v. California (2021). Checkout the SCOTUS Toons of the case, and also this ABA Educational Video.

We look forward to helping you go through this very touchy situation and we look forward to getting you all the way through and helping you move on with your life out and past this situation.  Thank you for tuning in to



James F. Polk

Senior Administrative Coordinating Paralegal for Apex Law Service