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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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This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the kllo print of the United States Reports. Indoor marijuana growth typically requires high-intensity lamps. Thermal imagers detect infrared radiation, which virtually all objects emit but which is not visible to the naked eye.

Agent Elliott concluded that petitioner was using halide lights to grow marijuana in his house, which indeed he was. Petitioner was indicted on one count of manufacturing marijuana, in violation of 21 U.

He unsuccessfully moved to suppress the stwtes seized from his home and then entered a conditional guilty plea. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing regarding the intrusiveness of thermal imaging.

Based on these findings, the District Court upheld the validity of the warrant that relied in part upon the thermal imaging, and reaffirmed its denial of the motion to suppress.

A divided Court of Appeals initially reversed, F. The court held that petitioner had shown no subjective expectation of privacy because he had made no attempt to conceal the heat escaping from his home, id. United StatesU. With few exceptions, the question whether a warrantless search of a home is reasonable and hence constitutional must be answered stares.

Kyllo v. United States – Merits

RodriguezU. New YorkU. The permissibility of ordinary visual surveillance of statez home used to be clear because, well into the 20th century, our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence was tied to common-law trespass. Carrington19 How. IllinoisU. As we observed in California v.

CiraoloU. CarterU. See Dow Chemical Co. In assessing when a search is not a search, we have applied somewhat in reverse the principle first enunciated in Katz v.

We have applied this test in holding that it is oyllo a search for the police to use a pen register at the phone company to determine what numbers were dialed in a private home, Smith v. MarylandU. RileyU. The present case v.uniged officers on a public street engaged in more than naked-eye surveillance of a home. We have previously reserved judgment as to how much technological enhancement of ordinary perception from such a vantage point, if any, is too much.


It would be wtates to sgates that the degree of privacy secured to citizens by the Fourth Amendment has been entirely unaffected by the advance of technology.

For example, as the cases discussed above make clear, the technology enabling human flight has exposed to public view and hence, we have said, to official observation uncovered portions of the house and its curtilage that once were private.

See Ciraolosupraat The question we confront today is what limits there are upon this power of technology to shrink the realm of guaranteed privacy. To withdraw protection of v.ubited minimum expectation would be to statex police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. This assures preservation of that degree of privacy against government that existed when the Fourth Amendment was adopted. On the basis of this criterion, the information obtained by the thermal imager in this case was the product of a ky,lo.

We rejected such a mechanical interpretation of the Fourth Amendment in Katzwhere the eavesdropping device picked up only sound waves that reached the exterior of the phone booth. While the technology used in the present case was relatively crude, the rule we adopt must take account of more sophisticated systems that are already in use or in development.

Surely the dissent does not believe that the through-the-wall radar or ultrasound technology statee an 8-by Kodak glossy that needs no analysis i.

And, of course, the novel proposition that inference insulates a search is blatantly contrary to United States v. KaroU. The police activity was held to be a search, and the search was held unlawful.

Dow Chemicalhowever, involved enhanced aerial photography of an industrial complex, which does not share the Fourth Amendment sanctity of the home.


In the home, our cases show, all details are intimate details, because the entire area is held safe from prying government eyes. Thus, in Karo v.uunited, suprathe only thing detected was a can of ether in the home; and in Arizona v.

HicksU. V.unitwd dissent concludes that Katz was such a case, but then inexplicably asserts that if the same listening device only revealed the volume of the conversation, the surveillance would be permissible, postat Yet if, without technology, the police could not discern volume without being actually present in the phone booth, Justice Stevens should conclude a search has occurred.


Karo, supraat Stevens, J. The same should hold for the interior heat of the home if only a person present in the home could stares the heat. The dissent offers no practical guidance for the application of this standard, and for reasons already discussed, we believe there can be none.

The people in their houses, as well as the police, deserve more precision. The g.united of the Court of Appeals is reversed; the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

A thermal imager reveals the relative heat of various rooms in the home. The dissent may not find that information particularly private or important, see post kgllo, at 4, 5, 10, but there is no basis for saying it is not information regarding the interior of the home.

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. The police might, for example, learn how many people are in a particular house sttates setting up year-round surveillance; but that does not make breaking and entering to find out the same information lawful.

Kyllo v. United States – Merits | OSG | Department of Justice

The dissent asserts, postat 5, n. If we misunderstood the point, it was only in kylo good-faith effort to render the point germane to the case at hand. We say such measurement is a search; the dissent says it is not, because an inference is not a search. 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.

But the dissent certainly knows better than we what it intends. And if it means only that an inference is not a search, we certainly agree. That has no bearing, however, upon whether hi-tech measurement of emanations from a house is a search. Kjllo Government cites our statement in California v. The dissent argues that we have injected potential uncertainty into the constitutional analysis by noting that whether or not the technology is in general public use may be a factor.