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People v. Tafoya.

2021 CO 62. No. 20SC9. 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 Tafoya was involved in illegal drug sales and installed a video camera near the top of a utility pole across the street from his home without first obtaining a warrant. The police continuously surveilled the property, including his 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.

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 Tafoya’s convictions were reversed.

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