Before I go any further, let me just state categorically that animosity does not inspire this article. I appreciate how the men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line daily to serve and protect.

To be totally honest, I ran across this question in an online forum. It aroused my curiosity, so I decided to delve deeper.

Legally speaking, the areas around your home are called the curtilage. The curtilage has the same constitutional privacy protections as your home. To enter this area, the police need to have either a Search Warrant or Warrant of Arrest.

The main difference between the patio, porches and outdoor areas of your home and the inside of your home is that what's outside may be in "plain view". Plain View is an exception to the warrant requirement under the constitution.

Photo by Sergey Lapunin on Unsplash
Photo by Sergey Lapunin on Unsplash

According to Terrence Marsh, Attorney at Law, if there is a fence around your backyard, and police cannot see in, you have a reasonable legal expectation of privacy in those areas. Police would not be allowed to search those areas without a warrant.

If you have a chainlink fence around your property, and your backyard is in plain view, then police don't have to shield their eyes from anything illegal that may be happening back there. If you "expect" more privacy, then you would have to erect privacy fencing.

If there is a path to your backyard and an open gate, then you should expect people to use this pathway to your backyard. Legally, it is like an invitation that your backyard is open and accessible to the public. The police would not need a warrant to enter under those circumstances.

If a police officer is approaching your backyard and they do not have a Search Warrant or Warrant of Arrest, you are perfectly within your rights to tell them to leave.  At that point, police have to authority, implied or otherwise, to stay on your property and must comply with your request.

They can come back later with a Search Warrant signed by a judge. In order to obtain that warrant, police would need enough evidence to demonstrate to the judte that there is probabable cause to believe that a crime is being committed there.

The Plain View doctrine complicates some issues when it comes to warrantless searches and seizing property that can be admissable in court. If an officer can see illegal activities happening in plain view on your property, then the officer can legally search your property without a warrant.

A closed gate at the entrance to the pool

This doctrine primarily applies to vehicle stops and searches. If police make a lawful traffic stop because they see a driver engaging in criminal or unlawful behavior, then that officer may pull over the driver. Based on information ascertained in that stop, an officer may reasonably assume that evidence of a crime exists in the vehicle. The officer may reasonably assume there is a weapon in the vehicle that provides an immediate threat.

In order to be legal,there must be significant proable cause or reasonable suspicion for a plain view search to be legal. Judged sometimes throw out evidence seized if the claim is deemed insufficient.

You can throw a cop off your property in Texas, under most conditions. Why would you if you don't have anything to hide? We are lucky that under our Constitution we have rights.  In so many places, citizens have none.

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