In Commonwealth v. Sanchez, the Court of Appeals ruled that the motion judge was correct in concluding that the search warrant authorizing a search of the defendant’s apartment “extended to a free-standing shed in the backyard outside the three-unit apartment building” containing the defendant’s residence. In the course of executing the “warrant authorizing a search of the third-floor apartment at the address in question and any persons present,” the police found the defendant outside the building. They “stopped him and obtained a set of keys from him. Using a key from the set, the officers opened the door to the third-floor apartment…. Minutes later, one of the officers went to the backyard to search. The entire backyard was fenced. While in the yard, the officer]discovered a locked shed and, using one of the keys on the defendant’s key ring …, gained access to the interior of the shed. Inside the shed, the officer observed a black BMW motor vehicle” and “determined that another key on the key ring … fit” that vehicle. The officer “also found and seized a substantial quantity of cocaine hidden above a ceiling panel within the shed.” In the defendant’s apartment, the police found “rent receipts indicating that the defendant rented the shed from the owner of the apartment building.”

The Court stated that the factors set forth in United States v. Dunn, “supported the … judge’s conclusion that … the shed was a part of the curtilage of the defendant’s … apartment” and, therefore, could be searched pursuant to the warrant obtained by the police.  “The he shed was within the backyard immediately adjacent to the apartment building…. The yard itself was enclosed by a fence. Most importantly, the defendant rented the shed from the building owner, and restricted access to it by means of the padlock he placed on the door. The defendant accordingly enjoyed exclusive access to, and use of, the shed, at least in comparison to the occupants of the other two apartments in the building, or other members of the public.”