Opinion of the Court. NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are. Full-length feature article on Kyllo v. United States, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court in February Drawn from the full-text version of. In Agent William Elliott of the United States Department of. Interior began to suspect that Danny Kyllo was using his home for the indoor cultivation of.

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We took that to mean that, since the technologically enhanced emanations had to be the basis of inferences before anything inside the house could be known, the use of the emanations could not be a search.

The use of the thermal imager in this case was not a Fourth Amendment search. Maroney Cardwell v. On the basis of this criterion, the information obtained by the staates imager in this case was the product of a search.

A divided Court of Appeals initially reversed, F. The court further found that “the use of thermal imaging here was not an intrusion into [petitioner’s] home,” that “[n]o intimate details of the home were stats that “there was no intrusion upon the privacy of the individuals within the home,” that “[t]he device used cannot penetrate walls or windows to reveal conversations or human activities,” and that “[t]he device recorded only the heat emitted from the home.

United States Rakas v.

Matlock Illinois v. United States Trupiano v. The thermal imager in this case, however, detected no activities or objects within the home. That has no bearing, however, upon whether hi-tech measurement of emanations from a house is a search.


CiraoloU. Based on his experience, Agent Elliott inferred that a marijuana grow operation began at Tova Shook’s residence at Rhododendron and was completed at petitioner’s residence at Rhododendron Drive.

In those circumstances, the use of the imager did not invade a reasonable expectation of privacy and therefore did not constitute a search.

Kyllo v. United States – Merits

Agents executing the warrants at petitioner’s house found an indoor marijuana growing operation involving more than plants, weapons, and drug paraphernalia.

And subsequent cases confirm that the Katz “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard applies whether the person claiming Fourth Amendment protection is inside or outside of a home. Electrical companies know precisely how much electricity a person uses, and they may readily infer from that information that something inside the xtates is generating an unusual amount of heat.

Martinez-Fuerte United States v. Illinois United States v. But the imager used in this case would not have had the capacity to reveal details of heat sources through a window to the same degree as a bright flashlight.

Kyllo first tried to suppress the evidence obtained from the thermal imaging search, but then he pleaded a conditional guilty. In light of those Fourth Amendment values, the government may not use a device that functions like an X-ray machine and sees through the walls of a home, exposing the private activities inside, without obtaining a warrant from a neutral magistrate. Second, the agent observed areas that were exposed to the public-the roof and walls of petitioner’s house.

United States Utah v. The fact that equivalent information could sometimes be obtained by other means does not make lawful the use of means that violate the Fourth Amendment.

But the Court’s analysis nevertheless depended on the principle that a search does not occur simply because technology enabled observations that could not otherwise be made without a physical invasion.

Municipal Court See v. Rettelle Mere evidence rule Boyd v. All of those cases confirm that the use of technology does not automatically transform the observations of an officer into a Fourth Amendment search. Schultz United States v. Olson County of Riverside v. Grubbs Los Angeles County v. It would be foolish to contend that the degree of privacy secured to citizens by the Fourth Amendment has been entirely unaffected by the advance of technology.


New Hampshire Shadwick v.

Kyllo v. United States

Because the imager in this case is limited in its ability to discern detail, its use through an open window would be no more invasive than nighttime observations aided by a flashlight. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for an evidentiary v.hnited regarding the intrusiveness of thermal imaging.

Technological advances hold the potential to intrude statrs privacy without any physical invasion, and in so doing, those methods may raise significant Fourth Amendment concerns. When the Agema imager detects areas that are relatively warm, it displays them as white; when it detects areas that are relatively cool, it displays them as black; and when it detects areas between the extremes, it displays them as shades of gray.

Alford Virginia v. The thermal scan showed a high amount of heat emanating from the roof over the garage and the side wall of petitioner’s house. The plurality expressly relied on the Court’s statement in Lee that the use of searchlights, marines glasses, or field glasses to observe areas exposed to the public does not constitute a search.