People v. Sanchez.
2021 CO 63. No. 20SC47. Searches and Seizures—Expectation of Privacy—Search of a Curtilage.
September 13, 2021
In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether the police’s use of a pole camera constituted a warrantless search. Police received information that Sanchez’s co-defendant, Tafoya, was involved in illegal drug sales. They installed a video camera near the top of a utility pole across the street from Tafoya’s home, which Sanchez routinely visited, without first obtaining a warrant. The police continuously surveilled the property, including Tafoya’s fenced-in backyard, for three months and stored the footage for later review. Eventually, based on observations obtained from the pole camera footage, the police obtained a warrant to search Tafoya’s home. During the subsequent search, the police seized illegal drugs, which were connected to Sanchez through the video footage.
As in People v. Tafoya, 2021 CO 62, __ P.3d __, the Court held that police use of a pole camera continuously for a three-month-long video surveillance of fenced-in curtilage, stored indefinitely for later review, constitutes a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ judgment was affirmed and Sanchez’s convictions were reversed.