In Collins v. Virginia, an opinion released today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, essentially, the protections afforded to the home by the 4th Amendment extend to vehicles close to the home. The case involved a hunt for an eluding suspect who had evaded officers on a motorcycle. Officers came upon a motorcycle in the defendant's driveway, covered with a tarp. After peeking under the tarp and determining it was the motorcycle involved, the defendant was arrested.
The Court found the officers intruded upon the area immediately surrounding the defendant's home (the curtilage) to investigate the motorcycle, their investigation would have required a warrant. The reason this holding is particularly interesting is that it defines a boundary between legal searches of a vehicle, which are generally subject to the so-called "automobile exception." The "automobile exception" is a legal rule developed by courts to allow searches of vehicles by law enforcement without a warrant so long as there is probable cause shown that there is evidence of a crime to be found in the vehicle.
For a more detailed explanation of the Collins v. Virginia opinion, take a look at the article over at SCOTUSBlog. To discuss how Collins v. Virginia might effect your pending case, feel free to give us a call.