Apply the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments in a criminal justice context. Analyze the level of legal protection for heat radiating from a private home.

Question description

Thermal Imaging Device Searches

Competencies Addressed in This Discussion

Competency 1: Articulate how the rules of criminal procedure apply to a criminal justice practitioner.

Competency 3: Apply the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments in a criminal justice context.

Introduction

In Kyllo v. United States (2001), the U.S. Supreme Court held that use of a technological device to explore the details of a home that would previously have been unknown without physical intrusion is a search and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant. The federal prosecutor argued that thermal imaging does not constitute a search because (1) “it detects only heat radiating from the external surface of the house” and therefore there was no entry, and (2) it did not detect private activities occurring in private areas because “everything that was detected was on the outside.”

The Court has ruled that plain view, plain odor, and plain touch are all constitutional. In Kyllo v. United States, the Court ruled the use of a thermal imaging device on a home was presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.

Instructions

In your main post:

Explain whether or not, as a criminal justice practitioner, you agree with the Court in Kyllo, and why. Include your rationale.

Analyze whether heat radiating from a private home should be protected using an additional related case as support for your position.

Differentiate the plain view, plain odor, and plain touch doctrines from the thermal imaging device in Kyllo with respect to search requirements.

Explore whether you believe the results of the Kyllo case has had a positive or negative impact for law enforcement.

Discussion Objectives

The competencies addressed in this discussion are supported by discussion objectives, as follows:

Competency 1: Articulate how the rules of criminal procedure apply to a criminal justice practitioner.

Explain your position regarding the ruling in Kyllo v. United States.

Differentiate the plain view, plain odor, and plain touch doctrines from thermal imaging devices.

Explore the impact of the decision in Kyllo v. United States on law enforcement.

Competency 3: Apply the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments in a criminal justice context.

Analyze the level of legal protection for heat radiating from a private home.

(2) sets of Facts on the case

A Department of the Interior agent, suspicious that Danny Kyllo was growing marijuana, used a thermal-imaging device to scan his triplex. The imaging was to be used to determine if the amount of heat emanating from the home was consistent with the high-intensity lamps typically used for indoor marijuana growth. Subsequently, the imaging revealed that relatively hot areas existed, compared to the rest of the home. Based on informants, utility bills, and the thermal imaging, a federal magistrate judge issued a warrant to search Kyllo’s home. The search unveiled growing marijuana. After Kyllo was indicted on a federal drug charge, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his home and then entered a conditional guilty plea. Ultimately affirming, the Court of Appeals held that Kyllo had shown no subjective expectation of privacy because he had made no attempt to conceal the heat escaping from his home, and even if he had, there was no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy because the imager “did not expose any intimate details of Kyllo’s life,” only “amorphous ‘hot spots’ on the roof and exterior wall.”

Kyllo v. United States. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved February 7, 2017, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2000/99-8508

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. Based in part on the thermal imaging, a Federal Magistrate Judge issued a warrant to search Kyllo’s home, where the agents found marijuana growing. After Kyllo was indicted on a federal drug charge, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his home and then entered a conditional guilty plea. The Ninth Circuit ultimately affirmed, 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. Even if he had, ruled the court, there was no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy because the thermal imager did not expose any intimate details of Kyllo’s life, only amorphous hot spots on his home’s exterior.

Supreme Justia, (n.d.) Kyllo v. United States. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/533/27…

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