![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]>
Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The Fourth Amendment provides in part that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. However, the Fourth Amendment does not prevent all investigations conducted on private property. Rather, at its very core it protects the home and its curtilage, or the area immediately surrounding and associated with the home. By contrast, as a general matter, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit government intrusion into activities occurring in open fields. The U.S. Supreme Court has provided a four-part test to determine whether an area is part of the curtilage. Those factors are: (1) the proximity of the area claimed to be curtilage to the home; (2) whether the area is included within an enclosure surrounding the home; (3) the nature of the uses to which the area is put; and (4) the steps taken by the resident to protect the area from observation by people passing by.
Defendant Brad Smith was convicted of six counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), the federal child pornography production statute. At sentencing, defendant argued that because the videos were taken during one continuous sexual assault, the charges were multiplicitous. The district court disagreed and ultimately sentenced defendant to a term of imprisonment of fifty years. On appeal, defendant argued that law enforcement agents had violated his Fourth Amendment rights by entering the curtilage of his residence without a warrant, and that their unlawful entry and "show of force" coerced him into consenting to the seizure of his laptop and hard drives.
Under the circumstances, did the law enforcement agents violate the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights?
The judgment of the district court was affirmed. The court held that the denial of the defendant's motion to suppress under the Fourth Amendment was proper where defendant's consent to a search was voluntary and not tainted as defendant was given an opportunity to pause and reflect and he was cognizant of the importance of consent and there was no evidence that law enforcement used threatening or abusive tactics to obtain defendant's consent to search the computer and hard drives.