The Law Dictionary

Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.

What is CURTILAGE

The enclosed space of ground and buildings immediately surrounding a dwelling-house. In its most comprehensive and proper legal signification, it includes all that space of ground and buildings thereon which is usually enclosed within the general fence immediately surrounding a principal messuage and outbuildings, and yard closely adjoining to a dwelling-house, but it may be large enough for cattle to be levant and couchant therein. 1 Chit. Gen. Pr. 175. The curtilage of a dwelling-house is a space, necessary and convenient and habitually used for the family purposes, and the carrying on of domestic employments. It includes the garden, if there be one, and it need not be separated from other lands by fence. State v. Shaw, 31 Me. 523; Com. v. Rarney, 10 Cush. (Mass.) 480; Derrickson v. Edwards, 29 N. J. Law, 474. SO Am. Dec. 220. The curtilage is the court-yard in the front or rear of a house, or at its side, or any piece of ground lying near, enclosed and used with, the house, and necessary for the convenient occupation of the house. People v. Geduey, 10 Ilun (X. Y.) 154. In Michigan, the meaning of curtilage has been extended to include more than an enclosure near the house. People v. Taylor, 2 Mich. 250.

TLD Example: The defendant claimed the search by police violated his Fourth Amendment rights because the evidence seized was within the curtilage of the home.

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