What is Curtilage?

Legal Definition
In law, the curtilage of a house or dwelling is the land immediately surrounding it, including any closely associated buildings and structures, but excluding any associated "open fields beyond", and also excluding any closely associated buildings, structures, or divisions that contain the separate intimate activities of their own respective occupants with those occupying residents being persons other than those residents of the house or dwelling of which the building is associated. It delineates the boundary within which a home owner can have a reasonable expectation of privacy and where "intimate home activities" take place. It is an important legal concept in certain jurisdictions for the understanding of search and seizure, conveyancing of real property, burglary, trespass, and land use planning.

In urban properties, the location of the curtilage may be evident from the position of fences, wall and similar; within larger properties it may be a matter of some legal debate as to where the private area ends and the "open fields" start.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Curtilage includes the area immediately surrounding a dwelling, and it counts as part of the home for many legal purposes, including searches and many self-defense laws. When considering whether something is in a dwelling's curtilage, courts consider four factors:

  1. The proximity of the thing to the dwelling;
  2. Whether the thing is within an enclosure surrounding the home;
  3. Wha the thing is used for.
  4. What steps, if any, the resident took to protect the thing from observation/ access by people passing by.
  5. The Supreme Court suggested these factors in the context of determining whether or not a barn was part of a house's curtilage. See United States v. Dunn (1987), 480 U.S. 294.

    In the context of criminal procedure, courts generally call any part of the property surrounding a dwelling that is not part of the curtilage an 'open field.'
Legal Definition
Estates. The open space situated within a common enclosure belonging to a dwelling-house. Vide 2 Roll, Ab. 1, l. 30; Com. dig. Grant, E 7, E 9; Russ. & Ry. 360; Id. 334, 357; Ry & Mood. 13; 2 Leach, 913; 2 Bos. & Pull. 508; 2 East, P. C. 494; Russ. & Ry. 170, 289, 322; 22 Eng. Com. Law R. 330; 1 Ch. Pr. 175; Shep. Touchs. 94.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The Enclosed space of ground and buildings immediately surrounding a dwelling-house. In its most comprehensive and proper legal signification, it includes all that space of ground and buildings thereon which is usually enclosed within the general fence immediately surrounding a principal messuage and outbuildings, and yard closely adjoining to a dwelling-house, but it may be large enough for cattle to be levant and couchant therein. 1 Chit Gen. Pr. 175.

The curtilage of a dwelling-house is a space, necessary and convenient and habitually used for the family purposes, and the carrying on of domestic employments. It includes the garden, if there be one, and it need not be separated from other lands by fence. State v. Shaw, 31 Me. 623; Com. v. Barney, 10 Cush. (Mass.) 480; Derrickson v. Edwards, 29 N. J. Law, 474, 80 Am. Dec. 220.

The cartilage is the court-yard in the front or rear of a house, or at its side, or any piece of ground lying near, enclosed and used with, the house, and necessary for the convenient occupation of the house. People v. Gedney, 10 Hun (N. Y.) 154. In Michigan the meaning of curtilage has been extended to include more than an enclosure near the house. People v. Taylor, 2 Mich. 250.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The common fence including the dwelling-house and its offices. See 2 Am. St. Rep. 388, note.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary