After scrutinizing the layout of a home and its surroundings, a Brooklyn appellate court has suppressed evidence of a gun and marijuana that a detective found when happening upon a car parked in a driveway.
In September 2011, New York City Detective Gregory Anderson received a call of a residential fire in Queens. When he responded, Anderson saw no fire, only a vacant lot.
He walked to the rear yard of the closest house and found Rashid Theodore in a car at the end of the driveway. Anderson saw Theodore holding a cigar stuffed with marijuana and directed him to exit the vehicle, where he later recovered a gun and drug paraphernalia.
Theodore was charged with two counts of second degree weapons possession and one count of fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty after suppression was denied.
The Appellate Division, Second Department unanimously reversed the denial of suppression on Feb. 13 and dismissed the indictment.
“The curtilage of the home—the area immediately surrounding and associated with the home or the area that is related to the intimate activities of the home—is part of the home itself,” said the panel in People v. Theodore, 1418/12.
Noting Theodore’s rear yard was within the home’s immediate surroundings, the panel continued, “This physical arrangement made manifest the defendant’s expectation of privacy, and that expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable.”
John A. Scarpa, Jr., Kew Gardens, N.Y., represented the defendant.
Assistant Queens County Assistant District Attorneys John M. Castellano, Johnnette Traill, and Deborah E. Wassel argued for the prosecution.