People v. Bonilla, 2018 IL 122484 (October). Episode 552 (Duration 8:50)
Constitutional violation did not depend on whether the common door to the apartment was locked.
- Episode 364 – People v. Bonilla – Do Single Family Homes Have More Constitutional Protection Than Apartment Buildings?
- Episode 464 – Constitutionality Based On Structure: Do Houses Have More Protection Than Apartments? – A review of:
– Florida v. Jardines, 133 S. Ct. at 1409 (2013)
– People v. Burns, 2016 IL 118973 (March)
– People v. Bonilla, 2017 IL App (3d) 160457 (June)
– People v. Martin, 2017 IL App (1st) 143255 (June)
The question of law at issue in this appeal is whether the warrantless use of a drug-detection dog at the threshold of an apartment door, located on the third floor of an unlocked apartment building containing four apartments on each floor, violated defendant’s fourth amendment rights.
Defendant, Derrick Bonilla, lived in an apartment at Pheasant Ridge Apartment Complex in Moline, Illinois.
The East Moline Police Department received a tip that defendant was selling drugs from his apartment. Acting on that tip officers brought a trained drug-detection dog to defendant’s apartment building. The exterior doors to the apartment building were not locked. The three-floor apartment building contained four apartments on each floor.
Once inside the building, the canine officer walked his drug-detection dog through the second-floor common area. The dog showed no interest in the second-floor common area and did not alert on any of the apartment thresholds. The officer then walked his dog through the third-floor common area. The dog showed no interest in units 301, 302, or 303. As the dog came to defendant’s apartment, unit 304, however, it moved back and forth in the doorway, sniffed at the bottom of the door, and signaled a positive alert for the presence of narcotics.
Got A Warrant
Officers obtained a search warrant for defendant’s apartment based on the drug-detection dog’s alert.
Officers searched defendant’s apartment and found cannabis.
Was The Use Of The Dog Legal?
The State argues that use of the drug-detection dog did not violate defendant’s fourth amendment rights because the common-area hallway in front of defendant’s apartment door did not constitute curtilage.
Defendant counters that use of the drug-detection dog at the threshold of his apartment door violated the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. IV). According to defendant, “a citizen’s home is first among equals in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, and the threshold is part of the home as a matter of law.”
Burns & Jardines
The State argues that this case is distinguishable from Burns because, here, the officers conducted a dog sniff in the unlocked common-area hallway outside of defendant’s apartment door and the landing was not part of the defendant’s curtilage under the “property-based” analysis announced in Jardines.
According to the State, under Burns, an unlocked apartment common area is not curtilage.
Defendant counters that under Burns and Jardines, the threshold of defendant’s apartment is constitutionally protected curtilage. Here, if the area at the threshold to the door of defendant’s apartment falls within the curtilage of the home, then the officer’s act of approaching defendant’s apartment door to have the narcotics-detection dog sniff the threshold of the apartment would constitute an unlicensed physical intrusion on a constitutionally protected area.
Accordingly, this court must determine whether the threshold of the door to defendant’s apartment falls within the curtilage of the home.
Locked Door Is The Difference
The facts of this case are nearly identical to those in Burns, other than the unlocked status of the apartment building.
We conclude that this distinction does not create a difference. The common-area hallway immediately outside of defendant’s apartment door is curtilage.
As the appellate court acknowledged in this case, “the fourth amendment does not differentiate as to type of home involved.” 2017 IL App (3d) 160457, ¶ 18. We agree with the trial court that “it would just be unfair to say you can’t come up on a person who lives in a single family residence and sniff his door but you can go into someone’s hallway and sniff their door if they happen to live in an apartment. That’s a distinction with an unfair difference.” See also Bonilla, 2017 IL App (3d) 160457, ¶ 18 (“As the trial court noted, to reach the opposite conclusion would be to draw a distinction with an unfair difference.”); and United States v. Whitaker, 820 F.3d 849, 854 (7th Cir. 2016) (recognizing that to distinguish Jardines based upon the differences between the front porch of a single family home and the closed hallway of an apartment building would be to draw an arbitrary line that would apportion fourth amendment protections on vagaries of the circumstances that decide home ownership or rental property).
We conclude that the threshold of the door to defendant’s apartment falls within the curtilage of the home.
Apartment v. House
“Were this court to hold that an apartment uniformly lacks fourth amendment curtilage, we would additionally hold that those who live in apartments have less property-based fourth amendment protection within their homes than those who live in detached housing.” Burns, 2016 IL 118973, ¶ 96.
Further, the officer’s conduct of using a trained narcotics-detection dog at the threshold of defendant’s apartment for the purpose of detecting contraband inside defendant’s home is the precise activity the Supreme Court condemned in Jardines. See Jardines, 569 U.S. at 11-12 (“The government’s use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”).
See Also Collins
When a law enforcement officer physically intrudes on the curtilage to gather evidence, a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment has occurred. Jardines, 569 U. S., at 11. Such conduct thus is presumptively unreasonable absent a warrant.” Collins, 584 U.S. at ___, 138 S. Ct. at 1670.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court concluded that by physically intruding on the curtilage of the defendant’s home to search the motorcycle, the police invaded the defendant’s fourth amendment interest in the item searched and also invaded his fourth amendment interest in the curtilage of his home. Collins v. Collins, 584 U.S. at ___, 138 S. Ct. at 1671.
Applying the relevant legal principles articulated by the Supreme Court in Jardines and Collins to this case yields the same result. Just like the front porch, side garden, or area outside the front window, the threshold of defendant’s apartment door constitutes an area adjacent to the home and to which the activity of home life extends and so is properly considered curtilage. Collins, 584 U.S. at ___, 138 S. Ct. at 1671 (quoting Jardines, 569 U.S. at 6-7, quoting Oliver, 466 U.S. at 182 n.12).
Accordingly, we hold that in physically intruding on the curtilage of defendant’s apartment to conduct a dog sniff of the threshold, officers violated defendant’s fourth amendment rights. We hold that the warrantless use of a drug-detection dog at the threshold of defendant’s apartment door violated his rights under the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution.
We also conclude that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply.
We affirm the judgment of the appellate court and affirm the trial court’s judgment granting defendant’s motion to suppress.