U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Searching a Motorcycle

4th amendment motorcycles, illegal search motorcycles, criminal defense attorney near me

Just like cars, a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court limits searches of motorcycles on private property.

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Ryan Collins was believed by police to have evaded them on two prior occasions. In looking for him, police came across his motorcycle parked on private property and covered with a tarp.

At issue was whether the police violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, by failing to obtain a warrant before conducting the search. Police had stepped on to the private property and lifted the tarp off the motorcycle to confirm/identify the motorcycle.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the Supreme Court in an 8 to 1 ruling, that precedent says warrants are not always required for a vehicle search does not extend to vehicles parked outside a house on private property. Warrants are generally required for the search of a house and the immediate surrounding property known as the “curtilage.”

“searching a vehicle parked in the curtilage involves not only the invasion of the Fourth Amendment interest in the vehicle but also an invasion of the sanctity of the curtilage.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

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