State v. Pasour, 223 N.C. App. 175 (Oct. 16, 2012)

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress property seized in a warrantless search. After receiving a tip that a person living at a specified address was growing marijuana, officers went to the address and knocked on the front and side doors. After getting no answer, two officers went to the back of the residence. In the backyard they found and seized marijuana plants. The officers were within the curtilage when they viewed the plants, no evidence indicated that the plants were visible from the front of the house or from the road, and a “no trespassing” sign was plainly visible on the side of the house. Even if the officers did not see the sign, it is evidence of the homeowner’s intent that the side and back of the home were not open to the public. There no evidence of a path or anything else to suggest a visitor’s use of the rear door; instead, all visitor traffic appeared to be kept to the front door and traffic to the rear was discouraged by the posted sign. Further, no evidence indicated that the officers had reason to believe that knocking at the back door would produce a response after knocking multiple times at the front and side doors had not. The court concluded that on these facts, “there was no justification for the officers to enter Defendant’s backyard and so their actions were violative of the Fourth Amendment.”

The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.