State v. Olm
In State v. Olm, 223 Ariz. 429, P 5, 224 P.3d 245, 247 (App. 2010), a Tucson police officer, acting on a request from a detective, entered Olm's property without a warrant and looked through the windshield of his vehicle to obtain the vehicle identification number (VIN). 223 Ariz. 429, PP 2-3, 224 P.3d at 247.
The vehicle "was parked in the residence's yard, to the left of a concrete walkway leading to the front door of the house from a public sidewalk adjacent to a public street," and it was facing the residence with its front end about five to six feet from the house. Id. P 2.
In order to inspect the vehicle, the officer first had to step off the walkway leading to the front door. Id.
The officer looked through the windshield and noticed that the vehicle's VIN plate was slightly bent. Id. P 3. He then went to the front door of the house, where he unsuccessfully tried to contact the residents. Id.
On appeal, following Olm's conviction for theft by control of a vehicle and conducting a "chop shop," id. P 4, the Court concluded that the vehicle had been parked on the residence's curtilage and that the officer was not lawfully present when he looked through the windshield and saw the VIN plate. Id. P 17.
In determining that Olm had a protected privacy interest in the yard where the vehicle had been parked, we focused on the fact that the officer had to leave the walkway and physically enter the yard in order to look inside the vehicle to see the VIN plate.
The Court concluded that "no reasonable member of the public would believe he or she had permission to enter the yard to peer into the vehicle," and, therefore, the officer had violated Olm's reasonable expectation of privacy in his front yard. Olm, 223 Ariz. 429, P 15, 224 P.3d at 250.