Argued February 20, l-Decided June 11, Suspicious that marijuana was being grown in petitioner Kyllo's home in a triplex, agents used a thermal-imaging device to scan the triplex to determine if the amount of heat emanating from it was consistent with the high-intensity lamps typically used for indoor marijuana growth. The scan showed that Kyllo's garage roof and a side wall were relatively hot compared to the rest of his home and substantially warmer than the neighboring units.
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According to the District Court that presided over Kyllo's evidentiary hearingthe device could not "penetrate walls or windows to reveal conversations or human activities. The device recorded only heat being emitted from the home.
The assumption is that to grow marijuana indoors, one needs to provide a large amount of light in order for the plants to photosynthesize. This information was subsequently used to obtain a search warrant, where federal agents discovered over marijuana plants growing in Kyllo's home.
Kyllo was charged with growing marijuana in his Oregon home.
Kyllo first tried to suppress the evidence obtained from the thermal imaging search, but then he pleaded a conditional guilty. Kyllo appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the grounds that observations with a thermal-imaging device constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment.
After issuing and withdrawing multiple opinions, on September 9,the Ninth Circuit upheld admission of the evidence, in an opinion by Judge Michael Daly Hawkins joined by Melvin T.
Brunettiwith John T. Opinion of the Court[ edit ] The Supreme Court ruled that the thermal imaging of Kyllo's home constituted a search.
Since the police did not have a warrant when they used the device, which was not commonly available to the public, the search was presumptively unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.
The majority opinion argued that a person has an expectation of privacy in his or her home and therefore, the government cannot conduct unreasonable searches, even with technology that does not enter the home. Justice Scalia also discussed how future technology can invade on one's right of privacy and therefore authored the opinion so that it protected against more sophisticated surveillance equipment.
As a result, Justice Scalia asserted that the difference between "off the wall" surveillance and "through the wall" surveillance was non-existent because both methods physically intruded upon the privacy of the home.
Scalia created a "firm but also bright" line drawn by the Fourth Amendment at the "'entrance to the house. The dissent thought this line was "unnecessary, unwise, and inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment"  because according to Scalia's previous logic, this firm but bright line would be defunct as soon as the surveillance technology used went into general public use, which was still undefined.
Dissent[ edit ] In the dissent Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the use of thermal imaging does not constitute a search, which requires a warrant, because any person could detect the heat emissions.
|KYLLO V. UNITED STATES||This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports.|
|Kyllo, Danny V. United States Essay||The devices then convert that infrared radiation into images based on relative warmth. Thus, the device can show areas of a dwelling that are emitting heat.|
|Kyllo v. United States - Merits | OSG | Department of Justice||An earlier opinion Supp.|
He argued that this could be done by simply feeling that some areas in or around the house are warmer than others or observing that snow was melting more quickly on certain sections of the house. Since the public could gather this information, Stevens argued, there is no need for a warrant and the use of this technique is not unconstitutional.
Moreover, Stevens asserted that the use of the thermal imaging device was merely "off-the-wall" surveillance because it did not detect any "intimate" details of Kyllo's home. He explained, "Heat waves, like aromas that are generated in a kitchen, or in a laboratory or opium den, enter the public domain if and when they leave a building.Kyllo and the Explicit Prohibition of Warrantless Thermal Imaging of a Home: The Supreme Court first addressed law enforcement’s use of thermal imagers in Kyllo v.
U.S. DANNY LEE KYLLO, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT [June 11, ] Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court. UNITED STATES Appealed From: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ( F.3d ) Oral Argument: term (after Jan.
1, ) The main subject in the Kyllo case deals with the advance in modern technology and how it relates to constitutional law.
OCTOBER TERM, Syllabus. KYLLO v. UNITED STATES. upholding the thermal imaging on the ground that Kyllo had shown no subjective expectation of privacy because he had made no attempt to conceal the heat escaping from his home.
noting apparent agreement with the State of California that aerial surveillance of a house's curtilage.
OCTOBER TERM, Syllabus KYLLO v. UNITED STATES CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT thermal-imaging device aimed at a private home from a people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be .
The argument by the appellant, Mr. Kyllo, uses the unreasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment as a defense against the use of thermal imaging systems without a warrant to search for illegal drug production inside his home.