That is not to say that homeowners must take affirmative steps to keep the public out of the curtilage before they will be afforded protection of that area under the Fourth Amendment.
The officer got out of his police cruiser and walked onto the curtilage and up to the defendant, who was sitting in his car.
Would it be proper for the police to enter onto the curtilage to retrieve trash that has not been put at the curb for collection?
Other courts have noted that scavenging animals are not familiar with the curtilage rule of the Fourth Amendment and ordinarily cannot be relied upon to abide by it.
A resident's expectation of privacy in areas on the curtilage increases the closer the area is to the house or the garage.
The court held that closed trash bags in the backyard of the curtilage are entitled to Fourth Amendment protection from police intrusion until they either are taken to the curbside or removed from the premises by the owner or trash collector.
The Supreme Court of North Carolina approved of that tactic because the trash was collected from the curtilage by the regular garbage collector, in the usual manner, on the scheduled collection day.
If, however, there is an area within the curtilage that is implicitly open to the public, such as a walkway to the front door, then it would not be considered a search if the police exercised the same freedom to walk on the curtilage as is implicitly granted to the public.
3 See also John Gales Sauls, "Curtilage, The Fourth Amendment in the Garden," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, May 1990, 26-32, for a comprehensive review of the pre- 1990 cases involving curtilage issues.