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Search & Seizure – Curtilage: Attached Garage

Village of Oregon v. Jeremy Florin, 2011AP1708, District 4, 8/16/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

Suspected of drunk driving, Florin was followed by a police officer to his home, ignored the officer’s command to stop, and went inside via an open garage. The officer entered the still-open garage, knocked on the door to the home, induced Florin outside and eventually arrested him for drunk driving. Florin argues that entry into the garage was unlawful; the court rejects the argument, applying “the least intrusive means of establishing contact with an occupant” analysis recognized by State v. Leutenegger, 2004 WI App 127, ¶21 n.5, 275 Wis. 2d 512, 685 N.W.2d 536:

¶9        First, because of their brief interaction, Florin would have known that the officer was present and interested in making contact with him.  Even so, Florin did not give the officer reason to think that the garage entry was off limits for purposes of reconnecting with Florin, as opposed to the front door. …

¶10      Second, and related to this, it was reasonable for the officer to think, in seeking to reconnect with Florin, that the obvious door to knock on was the door that Florin had just entered.  To put a finer point on it, this is not a situation where the officer simply walked up to Florin’s house and knocked at the garage entry, bypassing a front door ….

¶11      … [E]ven if I assumed in Florin’s favor that someone simply walking up to Florin’s house would understand that a less intrusive means of contact was the front door, it would not matter here.  The officer did not just walk up to Florin’s house, but rather there was the interaction between Florin and the officer that I have just summarized.  In these circumstances, I am given no reason to think that the arrangement of Florin’s front door mattered.

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