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The area, usually enclosed, encompassing the grounds and buildings immediately surrounding a home that is used in the daily activities of domestic life.

A garage, barn, smokehouse, chicken house, and garden are curtilage if their locations are reasonably near to the home. The determination of what constitutes curtilage is important for purposes of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of a person and of his or her home or property. Courts have construed the word home to include curtilage so that a person is protected against unlawful searches and seizures of his or her curtilage.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a courtyard. An open space within a common enclosure belonging to a house.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CURTILAGE, estates. The open space situated within a common enclosure belonging to a dwelling-house. Vide 2 Roll, Ab. 1, l. 30; Com. dig. Grant, E 7, E 9; Russ. & Ry. 360; Id. 334, 357; Ry & Mood. 13; 2 Leach, 913; 2 Bos. & Pull. 508; 2 East, P. C. 494; Russ. & Ry. 170, 289, 322; 22 Eng. Com. Law R. 330; 1 Ch. Pr. 175; Shep. Touchs. 94.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Areas Within the Curtilage that are Implicitly Open to the Public
Not every physical intrusion onto a curtilage will be viewed as a search.
The Supreme Court of North Dakota found that, although the police drove onto the defendant's curtilage, they did not intrude into a private area of the curtilage.
The officer got out of his police cruiser and walked onto the curtilage and up to the defendant, who was sitting in his car.
Would it be proper for the police to enter onto the curtilage to retrieve trash that has not been put at the curb for collection?
The court held that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in garbage left in that area, even though it was on his curtilage, because there was no fence or other barrier securing the area, and it was readily accessible to children, scavengers, snoops, or other members of the public.