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View Full Version : CA9: Your garage is just as much part of your castle as the rest of your home


Window_Seat
01-22-2011, 11:06 PM
A case from (year) 2000

I posted this in another thread, and I felt compelled to post it here, particularly to see how this could be addressed, for & by the Counsel (as well, everyone) here.

The question I've had in the past, and have seen posted here in the past, is that if a person is in their garage, and the garage is "wide open", and viewable for all to see, and the cop driving down the street sees you cleaning your BBed AR-15 with all the "evils", can they prove that since the garage was viewable for "all to see", there was no "reasonable expectation of privacy" for the warrantless search, and that the person's garage is not part of their home, therefore, an arrest is OK? Providing there are no "exigent circumstances" Payton v. New York 445 U.S. 573 (1980) (http://openjurist.org/445/us/573), I believe that question could be answered in USA v. Oaxaca 233 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2000) (http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/233/233.F3d.1154.99-30062.html):

We can conceive of no reason to distinguish a garage, where people spend time, work, and store their possessions, from a den or a kitchen, where people spend time, work, and store their possessions. Simply put, a person's garage is as much a part of his castle as the rest of his home.

The Government alternatively argues that the agents did not need a warrant because Oaxaca had left his door open, which exposed him to people outside. When pressed during oral argument on this point, the Government went so far as to suggest that a person who desires the protection of the Fourth Amendment must keep his doors and windows shut. The Fourth Amendment does not, however, protect only hermetically sealed residences.

I still wouldn't want to become a test case, but this (to me) would be a big help (along with Payton as well).

I hope that this can answer the "Is the garage publicly accessible, therefore illegal to carry this or clean that" question, but I (again) would want the Counsel here to address this as well (since IANAL). :cool:

Erik; was bored one day.

kel-tec-innovations
01-22-2011, 11:27 PM
Thanks

locosway
01-23-2011, 12:18 AM
I think your post is correct, being in the garage with the door open is akin to being in your living room with the front door open.

Matt C
01-23-2011, 12:50 AM
If a thing is in plain sight, it's in plain sight. If it isn't, just having your door open is not an invitation, absent other circumstances, to enter and search.

So to answer your question:

The question I've had in the past, and have seen posted here in the past, is that if a person is in their garage, and the garage is "wide open", and viewable for all to see, and the cop driving down the street sees you cleaning your BBed AR-15 with all the "evils", can they prove that since the garage was viewable for "all to see", there was no "reasonable expectation of privacy" for the warrantless search, and that the person's garage is not part of their home, therefore, an arrest is OK?

Since it's a legal gun with BB no an arrest is NOT ok. Assuming however you had something that was a felony to possess, in your garage, which a cop could clearly see from the street through a door, window, or whatever, he certainly could enter your property to arrest you. If he makes an "good faith mistake" about what you had, then you are just going to have a really bad day.

Advice? Close your garage door.

Alaric
01-23-2011, 1:01 AM
The scope of this topic is likely to be put to the test in a GFSZ context.

What if said garage is right across the street from an elementary school with kids coming/going. That one will probably be set up for failure.

Now what if said garage is 995 feet from said school, on the opposite side of the next block (not in plain view) down a long driveway.... maybe that's the case we need.

Oaxaca could be powerful precedent indeed.

Oaxaca reminds me of People v. Strider (http://blogs.findlaw.com/california_case_law/2009/09/people-v-strider-no-b204571.html) as well. Interesting that our 4th Amd. protections actually seem to be gaining strength in the 9th.

luckystrike
01-23-2011, 1:17 AM
this is cool. A few years back my friend was in his (open) garage just working on things here and there, cop drives by and decides to get nosy and noticed a stray 30-06 round and said that he needed to search his garage looking for the gun to make sure it wasnt loaded since "when your garage is open its out 'in public'":laugh:
He told the cop politely to leave, shut the garage and that was that.

kermit315
01-23-2011, 6:21 AM
The scope of this topic is likely to be put to the test in a GFSZ context.

What if said garage is right across the street from an elementary school with kids coming/going. That one will probably be set up for failure.

Now what if said garage is 995 feet from said school, on the opposite side of the next block (not in plain view) down a long driveway.... maybe that's the case we need.

Oaxaca could be powerful precedent indeed.

Oaxaca reminds me of People v. Strider (http://blogs.findlaw.com/california_case_law/2009/09/people-v-strider-no-b204571.html) as well. Interesting that our 4th Amd. protections actually seem to be gaining strength in the 9th.

I dont know that this is necessarily true. Private property is private property. Unlike Theseus' case, its not private property open to the public as the laundromat was, which caused the points of contention. Anyway, private residences within a GFSZ have an exemption IIRC. I dont see any reason that the first case isnt as winable as the second, although I would agree that the second would be an easier sale.

cdtx2001
01-23-2011, 6:32 AM
The scope of this topic is likely to be put to the test in a GFSZ context.

What if said garage is right across the street from an elementary school with kids coming/going. That one will probably be set up for failure.

Now what if said garage is 995 feet from said school, on the opposite side of the next block (not in plain view) down a long driveway.... maybe that's the case we need.

Oaxaca could be powerful precedent indeed.

Oaxaca reminds me of People v. Strider (http://blogs.findlaw.com/california_case_law/2009/09/people-v-strider-no-b204571.html) as well. Interesting that our 4th Amd. protections actually seem to be gaining strength in the 9th.

Sounds like my garage. I may not be down a long driveway, but I am on the edge of a GFSZ. My garage is also in a court and when the door is open, whoever and whatever is in there is visible to all who are out there, especially those that walk along a trail on the other side of a fence at the end of the court.

I regularly clean my firearms with the door wide open. The fumes from the chemicals are not good to breathe in any amount, the instructions on the containers say so, therefore good ventilation is key.

Still, if Johnny Law wanted to come in and take a look I'd say no. I'd probably close the door as he was walking up. Not that I have anything to hide, I just don't like strangers looking through my stuff.

Crom
01-23-2011, 9:28 AM
Erik, This is a gem of 4th Amendment case law and it cites other controlling cases as well.

I can say today that I now understand that the 4th amendment boundary is at the threshold of my door(s), and they can be open, including the garage. :)


Indeed, the argument that anyone who is visible from the street implicitly invites the Government to enter his home not only deeply offends common sense, but flies in the face of well-established law. In Payton, 445 U.S. at 590, (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=14936388408511643149&q=USA+v.+Oaxaca&hl=en&as_sdt=2003) 100 S.Ct. 1371, (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=14936388408511643149&q=USA+v.+Oaxaca&hl=en&as_sdt=2003) the Supreme Court invalidated an arrest that was virtually indistinguishable from the one in this case. There, as here, the police saw the suspect through an open door, crossed its threshold, walked inside the room, and arrested him. Id. at 578, 100 S.Ct. 1371 (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=14936388408511643149&q=USA+v.+Oaxaca&hl=en&as_sdt=2003). In holding that the arrest was unconstitutional, the Court emphasized, "the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance of the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant." Id. at 590, 100 S.Ct. 1371 (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=14936388408511643149&q=USA+v.+Oaxaca&hl=en&as_sdt=2003).Do remember too that the 4th amendment protection only protects us against the government and not private citizens.

kermit315
01-23-2011, 9:50 AM
Do remember too that the 4th amendment protection only protects us against the government and not private citizens.


What are you getting at with this?

stitchnicklas
01-23-2011, 9:54 AM
glad my garage is behind a fence...

Dutch3
01-23-2011, 9:59 AM
What are you getting at with this?

Possibly that your nosy neighbor could walk "unmolested and unchallenged" into your open garage and place you under citizen's arrest?

stitchnicklas
01-23-2011, 10:06 AM
Possibly that your nosy neighbor could walk "unmolested and unchallenged" into your open garage and place you under citizen's arrest?

nope

Goldseeker
01-23-2011, 10:09 AM
So an open garage is your castle, but your open yard is not. Consistency of the law is something indeed.
.

Alaric
01-23-2011, 11:16 AM
Erik, This is a gem of 4th Amendment case law and it cites other controlling cases as well.

It certainly is a step in the right direction.

I can say today that I now understand that the 4th amendment boundary is at the threshold of my door(s), and they can be open, including the garage. :)

Keep in mind that Oaxaca wasn't challenging the validity of the arrest itself. What he successfully challenged was the officer making an arrest on the spot without first getting a warrant based on what he saw in the open garage (the suspect and a backpack full of marijuana). If the officer had taken the extra step of getting a warrant first the case wouldn't have gone Oaxaca's way on appeal and he'd be sitting in prison.

Which begs the question then, if the officer had left to get a warrant, upon his return would the evidence of any crime still have been there? The court assumes it would.

Do remember too that the 4th amendment protection only protects us against the government and not private citizens.

True. It also doesn't go so far as to prevent a police helicopter from snooping around your private property at low altitude with binoculars, FLIR and any other gadget they might choose to employ to invade your ever diminishing privacy rights.

alex00
01-23-2011, 11:26 AM
What are you getting at with this?

What it means is that private citizens, not acting as agents of the police, are not bound by the 4th Amendment. If person A walks into person B's house and removes a large bag of cocaine and gives it to the police, person B's 4th Amendment rights have not been violated. Sure person A might have committed crimes by walking into person B's house, but the evidence shouldn't be suppressed on 4th Amendment challenges. The 4th only protects you from the Government.

As to the question of open garage doors, if there is contraband in plain sight, it may give LEOs reason to secure the 'scene' and apply for a warrant. An open garage is not considered a public place like an unprotected front yard. If someone was growing marijuana in their front yard, without a fence, it could most likely be seized without a warrant. That same grow in the open garage would likely require a warrant.

The court simply affirmed that a garage is no different than any other room in your house. Carry of a firearm in your garage, should be no different than carry in your living room, whether or not the doors are open or closed. Carrying a firearm on your own property is similar, if not identical, to where you may be intoxicated. You can be drunk in your house and backyard, but step out the front door, and you are in public. Generally, if someone selling girlscout cookies door to door can get to that part of your property, you can't be drunk or carry a gun there. Just because the garage door is big, doesn't mean just anyone can walk in.

Crom
01-23-2011, 12:12 PM
What it means is that private citizens, not acting as agents of the police, are not bound by the 4th Amendment. If person A walks into person B's house and removes a large bag of cocaine and gives it to the police, person B's 4th Amendment rights have not been violated. Sure person A might have committed crimes by walking into person B's house, but the evidence shouldn't be suppressed on 4th Amendment challenges. The 4th only protects you from the Government.

As to the question of open garage doors, if there is contraband in plain sight, it may give LEOs reason to secure the 'scene' and apply for a warrant. An open garage is not considered a public place like an unprotected front yard. If someone was growing marijuana in their front yard, without a fence, it could most likely be seized without a warrant. That same grow in the open garage would likely require a warrant.

The court simply affirmed that a garage is no different than any other room in your house. Carry of a firearm in your garage, should be no different than carry in your living room, whether or not the doors are open or closed. Carrying a firearm on your own property is similar, if not identical, to where you may be intoxicated. You can be drunk in your house and backyard, but step out the front door, and you are in public. Generally, if someone selling girlscout cookies door to door can get to that part of your property, you can't be drunk or carry a gun there. Just because the garage door is big, doesn't mean just anyone can walk in.

^This. Thanks. That is what I was getting at. And your bolded text is how I see this helping us. This case should give confidence to anyone who wishes to LOC or CCW in their garage. The protections of Heller and Oaxaca should protect us. But the threshold of the door is where that protection ends, at least for now.

Anyone else agree?

So an open garage is your castle, but your open yard is not. Consistency of the law is something indeed.
.

There is a difference between the walls of your home (garage included) and the boundaries of your property line. Given current CA case law, you need a locked gate with a fence around your property line to carry loaded outside your home.

Framer
01-23-2011, 12:15 PM
Generally, if someone selling girlscout cookies door to door can get to that part of your property, you can't be drunk or carry a gun there.

I'm not trying to open a can of worms here; but I am curious....does this apply to open carry and concealed carry.

I was studying another thread that discussed places where it's legal to carry concealed without CCW and where UOC is legal. The codes cited private property and campsites (excluding State Parks) as legal for CC. I thought I had it all understood pretty well until this thread mucked it all up for me again.

As most of you campers know, people rudely walk through your campsite all the time as a shortcut to the toilet.

Crom
01-23-2011, 12:23 PM
I'm not trying to open a can of worms here; but I am curious....does this apply to open carry and concealed carry.

I was studying another thread that discussed places where it's legal to carry concealed without CCW and where UOC is legal. The codes cited private property and campsites (excluding State Parks) as legal for CC. I thought I had it all understood pretty well until this thread mucked it all up for me again.

As most of you campers know, people rudely walk through your campsite all the time as a shortcut to the toilet.

Oaxaca is interesting because it establishes that the Garage affords us the same protection as "in the home."

See this link for Unlicensed Concealed Carry (http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/index.php/Unlicensed_Concealed_Carry).

Don29palms
01-23-2011, 12:26 PM
I have a 6' chainlink fence with a locked gate around my whole property. My dogs make it inaccessible to the public. Would it be ok for me to loaded carry on my property?

barthel
01-23-2011, 12:35 PM
My house sits one block from a high school, so I am in the middle of a GFSZ. I clean my guns in the garage with the door open, but still feel like I need to take extra steps to keep my activities out of plain view, even though it's my property.

Crom
01-23-2011, 12:36 PM
I have a 6' chainlink fence with a locked gate around my whole property. My dogs make it inaccessible to the public. Would it be ok for me to loaded carry on my property?


Yes. In your case, loaded and open or concealed would be fine. The fence with the locked gate is the controlling factor.
See People v. Strider (http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/index.php/Unlicensed_Concealed_Carry#People_v._Strider): (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1393 the California Appellate Court ruled that a front yard surrounded by a fence and gate was not a public place for the purposes of PC 12031.

xenophobe
01-23-2011, 12:49 PM
Since it's a legal gun with BB no an arrest is NOT ok. Assuming however you had something that was a felony to possess, in your garage, which a cop could clearly see from the street through a door, window, or whatever, he certainly could enter your property to arrest you. If he makes an "good faith mistake" about what you had, then you are just going to have a really bad day.

Advice? Close your garage door.

^^ agreed.

There is no plainly visible distinction between a registered assault weapon, bullet button build or illegal assault weapon, especially at a distance.

At the very least the officer can ask you if it's registered or in a legal configuration. As for him actually entering the premises for a compliance check? Of course, he can do it. Will he violate your rights in the process and would he be in the wrong? Are you sure you want to go to court to find out?

The best solution is to not put yourself in the situation that you may be in felony possession in plain sight of the public.

Window_Seat
01-23-2011, 1:06 PM
The idea is to make it so that we can comfortably and lawfully conduct our lives without having to hide from Government intrusion. If we can't, then Government is oppressive. If we believe we can't, then Government knows it can be oppressive.

Erik.

alex00
01-23-2011, 1:59 PM
I'm not trying to open a can of worms here; but I am curious....does this apply to open carry and concealed carry.

I was studying another thread that discussed places where it's legal to carry concealed without CCW and where UOC is legal. The codes cited private property and campsites (excluding State Parks) as legal for CC. I thought I had it all understood pretty well until this thread mucked it all up for me again.

As most of you campers know, people rudely walk through your campsite all the time as a shortcut to the toilet.

I should have been more clear than just saying carrying a gun. In summary, inside your house, garage, back yard and locked/gated front yard carry however you wish. Exposed, concealed, loaded, unloaded, the sky is the limit. On your property, but outside in an area that the girlscout can access, you can only UOC, with all the normal GFSZ rules still in effect. You may not be loaded or concealed in these public areas.

The campsite is interesting, and I think unexplored territory. If you are in an area where the discharge of a weapon is not prohibited, then you may be loaded. I would venture, that based on the rules about public accessible places, that sitting around the campfire concealed, may be an issue. I think the residence rules only apply to your tent or RV, the rest of the campsite would probably be treated like your front yard at home.

Window_Seat
01-23-2011, 3:08 PM
I should have been more clear than just saying carrying a gun. In summary, inside your house, garage, back yard and locked/gated front yard carry however you wish. Exposed, concealed, loaded, unloaded, the sky is the limit. On your property, but outside in an area that the girlscout can access, you can only UOC, with all the normal GFSZ rules still in effect. You may not be loaded or concealed in these public areas.

The campsite is interesting, and I think unexplored territory. If you are in an area where the discharge of a weapon is not prohibited, then you may be loaded. I would venture, that based on the rules about public accessible places, that sitting around the campfire concealed, may be an issue. I think the residence rules only apply to your tent or RV, the rest of the campsite would probably be treated like your front yard at home.

USA V. Basher (http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/01/20/09-30311.pdf)

Classifying the area outside of a tent in a National Park or National Forest lands campsite as curtilage would be very problematic. A tent is comparable to a house, apartment, or hotel room because it is a private area where people sleep and change clothing. See Gooch, 6 F.3d at 677. However, campsites, such as the dispersed, ill-defined site here, are open to the public and exposed.

But Basher was a prohibited person in possession of a firearm

Erik.

Alaric
01-23-2011, 5:41 PM
I have a 6' chainlink fence with a locked gate around my whole property. My dogs make it inaccessible to the public. Would it be ok for me to loaded carry on my property?

A fence and locked gate are not necessarily enough to always establish curtilage. There's also factors of "usage", visibility, and signage to account for. For instance, if your fence was a short distance from your house or other buildings (garage, shed, etc.) then you're ok. If it's distant, maybe not, depends on the court. Same murky standard also applies if you are fencing in acreage vs. a sub-acreage property. You may need no trespassing signs as well. Additionally, there is some case law that supports government intrusions if there is "plain sight". In other words, you may want to grow a tall, thick, view-blocking hedge behind your chain-link fence to block the view as well.

I should have been more clear than just saying carrying a gun. In summary, inside your house, garage, back yard and locked/gated front yard carry however you wish. Exposed, concealed, loaded, unloaded, the sky is the limit. On your property, but outside in an area that the girlscout can access, you can only UOC, with all the normal GFSZ rules still in effect. You may not be loaded or concealed in these public areas.

The campsite is interesting, and I think unexplored territory. If you are in an area where the discharge of a weapon is not prohibited, then you may be loaded. I would venture, that based on the rules about public accessible places, that sitting around the campfire concealed, may be an issue. I think the residence rules only apply to your tent or RV, the rest of the campsite would probably be treated like your front yard at home.

It also depends on the specific rules applying to whatever agency or private entity owns the land that you're camping on. It's highly explored territory, and also intersects with issues of "wilderness" designation, hunting, fishing, proximity to buildings, proximity to roads, etc. For example, unfortunately, many unimproved USFS (Forest Service) campgrounds in the state have and are being designated "Wilderness areas" and posted "no firearms" in an obvious attempt to keep campers from packing. This thread is the clearinghouse for more information on the rules for carrying on public lands: Firearms in Forests and Parks (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=186457). Firearms in camping situations is an evolving and complex situation, to say the least.

locosway
02-04-2011, 9:29 AM
Here is Anaheim Police Department's view on OC in a garage.

Thank you for using Anaheim Anytime. To answer your question, it is legal to carry a loaded firearm in your open garage. If officers saw you in your garage they would want to know why you have the weapon (is there someone bothering you, do you think something is going to happen?) but it's legal. You also have to think about your neighbors. We could get a call from a concerned neighbor that sees someone with a gun in a garage and are justifiably concerned. That neighbor would call us and we would have to send at least two officers out to your house to find out what was going on. I would suggest that you don't carry a weapon in your garage since it will probably cause you more headaches than it's worth.

Sincerely,

John Carter
Communications Supervisor
Anaheim Police Department

Crom
02-04-2011, 9:41 AM
Here is Anaheim Police Department's view on OC
Thank you for using Anaheim Anytime. To answer your question, it is legal to carry a loaded firearm in your open garage?

it's legal.

Sincerely,

John Carter
Communications Supervisor
Anaheim Police Department



There. Fixed John's statement and removed all the useless fear mongering.

It would have been nice if he had the wherewithal to explain that you could just conceal it as well. Your home is your home and the law says that the garage is part of it. :thumbsup:

Brickman
02-04-2011, 10:03 AM
My house sits one block from a high school, so I am in the middle of a GFSZ. I clean my guns in the garage with the door open, but still feel like I need to take extra steps to keep my activities out of plain view, even though it's my property.

Even though that is a pain, it's also very responsible of you.

Wherryj
02-04-2011, 10:12 AM
Does anyone else find it sad that this question even NEEDED a court's answer? The garage IS part of one's home, obviously. It belongs to someone, typically is locked or at least has a door and it may be occupied.

Someone breaking into a garage faces pretty much the same circumstances as someone breaking through your front door.

Do we know need a court's decision about whether breaking through a rear window is the same violation of one's 'castle' as breaking through a front door?

voiceofreason
02-04-2011, 11:14 AM
What if the garage isn't attached?

Glock22Fan
02-04-2011, 11:35 AM
What if the garage isn't attached?

:banghead::banghead:

BKinzey
02-04-2011, 11:39 AM
What if the garage isn't attached?

Deleted smart-azz reply.

It doesn't matter.:rolleyes::rolleyes:

Crom
02-04-2011, 12:40 PM
Does anyone else find it sad that this question even NEEDED a court's answer? The garage IS part of one's home, obviously. It belongs to someone, typically is locked or at least has a door and it may be occupied.

Someone breaking into a garage faces pretty much the same circumstances as someone breaking through your front door.

Do we know need a court's decision about whether breaking through a rear window is the same violation of one's 'castle' as breaking through a front door?

Reread the OP, the garage was OPEN and the agents went in. The court ruled that, that was a violation for the 4th amendment protection and the cops need to get a warrant first. The court was protecting the rights of the individual because the police were violating them. The cops were wrong, the the court was correcting that.

Look:


The Government alternatively argues that the agents did not need a warrant because Oaxaca had left his door open, which exposed him to people outside. When pressed during oral argument on this point, the Government went so far as to suggest that a person who desires the protection of the Fourth Amendment must keep his doors and windows shut. The Fourth Amendment does not, however, protect only hermetically sealed residences.

XDshooter
02-04-2011, 2:24 PM
What it means is that private citizens, not acting as agents of the police, are not bound by the 4th Amendment. If person A walks into person B's house and removes a large bag of cocaine and gives it to the police, person B's 4th Amendment rights have not been violated. Sure person A might have committed crimes by walking into person B's house, but the evidence shouldn't be suppressed on 4th Amendment challenges. The 4th only protects you from the Government.


So a neighbor illegally trespasses onto someone's property, steals a bag of coke, and brings it to the police? :rolleyes:

The neighbor is gonna get busted for possession, and there isn't going to be enough proof from "he-said she-said" to effect the homeowner.

epilepticninja
02-04-2011, 6:01 PM
Advice? Close your garage door.

Exactly. I clean my guns in my garage, but I only open the door about 6" from the floor. Enough to get some light in, but not enough for every lookie-loo in the county to know what I have. Not to mention, I don't want to be a test case for a brand new rook working the beat I live in.

ken worth
02-28-2011, 12:46 PM
I'm not a lawyer and I don't even watch them on tv. but my front yard is as much my private property as my bathroom. I have cleaned guns in the garage and even out side in the sunshine. you can't look into my garage from the street its faceing 90 degrees to the street and the street is a mile and a half away. I'm glad that I don't live in the concrete jungle.

odysseus
02-28-2011, 12:53 PM
I'm not a lawyer and I don't even watch them on tv. but my front yard is as much my private property as my bathroom.

There is also quasi-public. Is your front yard accessible to the mail carrier, utilities service, accidental visitor off the street? The point of privacy in your private property is where you have cordoned it off to public access.

dilligaffrn
02-28-2011, 2:02 PM
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