August 23, 2019

Archives for July 5, 2013

Colorado Supreme Court: Evidence Should Not Be Suppressed where Officer Entered Defendant’s Curtilage in Concern for Officer Safety

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Brunsting on Monday, July 1, 2013.

Criminal Law—Fourth Amendment—Exigent Circumstances—Safety of Officers as Justification for Warrantless Search—Search of a Curtilage—Probable Cause.

The Supreme Court considered the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement as it pertains to a search of a residence’s curtilage motivated by concern for officer safety. The Court held that officer safety concerns fall within the exigent circumstances exception when: (1) the officers have an objectively reasonable basis to believe there is an immediate need to protect the lives or safety of themselves or others, and (2) the manner and scope of the search is reasonable. Here,

The deputy sheriff’s initial entry into defendant’s cartilage was justified by the exigent circumstances exception. The court of appeals did not consider conduct by law enforcement in response to observations made after officer safety concerns caused the first deputy to enter the curtilage. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and the case was remanded to the court of appeals to consider the remainder of the issues raised on appeal concerning the conduct by law enforcement that occurred after the first deputy crossed into the defendant’s curtilage, as well as all other outstanding issues.

Summary and full case available here.