In Arizona, posting a “No Trespassing” sign on your property could prevent police officers from entering to conduct a search or seizure. The United States Constitution grants individuals a right to expect privacy on their own properties. However, there are circumstances where law enforcement can bypass a “No Trespassing” sign and legally enter a property in Arizona.

The Fourth Amendment and Your Privacy Rights

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right of American citizens to feel secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This prevents the police from entering or searching a person’s property – including their vehicles and person – without probable cause and a warrant.

However, the Fourth Amendment does not prevent reasonable property searches. The distinction between what is reasonable and unreasonable has been contested for many years. To clear this matter up, federal and state courts have enacted laws to help determine when the police can and cannot enter private property.

What Is Curtilage?

Curtilage” is the legal term used to describe spaces around an individual’s home or property where he or she can continue to expect reasonable control over who enters. Curtilage generally includes the area immediately surrounding a residence, such as the front entryway, driveway, yard and garden.

Under the concept of curtilage, these spaces are typically considered to be part of the owner’s premises and are therefore afforded the same legal protections as the house itself. This includes a constitutional protection from unlawful searches and seizures. Determining what constitutes curtilage takes looking at factors such as the presence of fences or barriers and the layout of the property.

How Does a Search Warrant Effect Trespassing Laws?

If you have a “No Trespassing” sign posted in a visible place on your property, this is enough to mark the premises as private property. This means anyone not invited by you or legally authorized to enter cannot step onto your property, including police officers. However, if a police officer has a valid warrant, this grants law enforcement authorization to enter the property despite a “No Trespassing” sign.

The rules of a warrant state that it must be signed and issued by a government official. It must contain highly specific language. If it does not describe the area being searched as well as the items or evidence that police are looking for, it is not a valid warrant. Police officers do not have permission to search anywhere that is not included on the warrant.

To obtain a warrant, law enforcement must suspect you of committing a crime. They must have probable cause to make you a suspect, which they will present to a judge when seeking a search warrant. If a judge signs the warrant, the police will have the right to search your private property. This can include a home, business or vehicle, whether or not there are “No Trespassing” signs posted.

Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding Searches of Your Property

In general, police officers are not exempt from trespassing laws in Arizona. However, if an officer is acting in the scope of official duty and has a warrant to enter private property, he or she can do so without legal repercussions. If you have a case involving a search of your property by police that you wish to discuss with an attorney, speak with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer from Corso Law Group for a free consultation. We can help you defend your rights. Contact us today.

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