Can the Police Now Use Thermal Imaging Devices Without a Warrant?

January 7, 2010

as these devices slowly migrate into the public’s hands, you can be certain that these tools will be used by citizens to focus on ways to get actual evidence to request a warrant from the police, but the courts for now have banned the use of these tools to qualify for a search independently.

In Kyllo, the police used an infrared thermal imaging device called an “Agema Thermovision 210″ to scan a suspect’s home from the city street. The scan tool a few minutes, and it revealed that the roof over Kyllo’s garage was unusually hot — a sign, the government though, that the suspect was growing marijuana under heat lamps in the garage attic. The Supreme Court announced the following rule: “when . . . the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a “search” and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.” Because infrared temperature sensing was not in “general public use,” the thermal imaging was a “search” that required a warrant.


Can the Police Now Use Thermal Imaging Devices Without a Warrant?

January 7, 2010

As these devices slowly migrate into the public’s hands, you can be certain that these tools will be used by citizens to focus on ways to get actual evidence to request a warrant from the police, but the courts for now have banned the use of these tools to qualify for a search independently.

In Kyllo, the police used an infrared thermal imaging device called an “Agema Thermovision 210″ to scan a suspect’s home from the city street. The scan tool a few minutes, and it revealed that the roof over Kyllo’s garage was unusually hot — a sign, the government though, that the suspect was growing marijuana under heat lamps in the garage attic. The Supreme Court announced the following rule: “when . . . the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a “search” and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.” Because infrared temperature sensing was not in “general public use,” the thermal imaging was a “search” that required a warrant.