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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The Supreme Court ruled that the thermal imaging of Kyllo’s home constituted a search. An affidavit in support of a request for a warrant to myllo petitioner’s house contained the following information. Scope of the Fourth Amendment What constitutes a search? Particularly in light of the inevitability of heat loss from a structure, the use of the imager to localize in a general way relatively warmer spots on the structure’s exterior, without revealing the underlying heat sources, does not infringe on kjllo domains that are protected by the Fourth Amendment.

It is particularly appropriate to treat thermal imaging kyplo the same fashion because there are a variety of ways in which heat production in the home commonly manifests itself outside the home. The record in this case indicates that an imager can detect human activity through an open window; that some imagers can detect human activity through some kinds of closed windows; and that an imager may stztes human activity through light curtains if a person is pressed up against them.

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Montoya De Hernandez United States v. The court of appeals’ holdings concerning Agent Elliott’s reliance on petitioner’s electrical usage and his omission of petitioner’s divorce from Luanne are not at issue here. It would not be possible, for example, for an imager to identify through stated solid wall a sauna, shower, or indoor orchid garden. United States Burdeau v. Because sophisticated technology holds the potential to compromise privacy, caution is appropriate in evaluating its use, especially as applied to observations of the home.


Electrical companies know precisely how much electricity a person uses, and they may readily infer from that information that wtates inside the house is generating an unusual amount of heat. Powell INS v. We have previously reserved judgment as to how much technological enhancement of ordinary perception from such a vantage point, if any, is too much. As such, the imager represented a permissible means for law enforcement to v.uniyed information without previously obtaining a search warrant.

An imager does function differently from a flashlight, in kylo occupants of a home are not illuminated by a v.unitex beam of light that gives them notice that the imager is in use. The Court explained that the government had employed a camera commonly used in mapmaking, the photographs were not “so revealing of intimate details as to raise constitutional concerns,” and “[t]he mere fact that human vision is enhanced somewhat, at least to the degree here, does not give rise to constitutional problems.

For example, when government investigators observe smoke coming out of the chimney of a house, they can infer that the occupant of the house is using his fireplace to heat an area of the house.

This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports.

The Court explained that the liquor was apparently sitting on deck, and that there was no “exploration below decks or under hatches. Garner Graham v. United States Kyllo v. Because petitioner “made no attempt to conceal these emissions,” he demonstrated “a lack of concern with the heat emitted and ykllo lack of a subjective privacy expectation in the heat. Virtually all objects emit infrared radiation.

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

New York Adams v. A thermal imager cannot “see” an object through thin curtains v.unihed the object is directly pressed up against the curtains. Instead, it involves the use of technology to observe an area that is exposed to the public in order to detect whether an unusual amount of heat emanates from that area.


The court of appeals agreed, finding that the imager “did not literally or figuratively penetrate the walls of the Kyllo residence, ” id at 9, or detect “the detailed images of private activity that [petitioner] suggests the technology could expose, id. Pape Malley v. Kyllo was charged with growing marijuana in his Oregon home.

Maryland Walter v. Wikipedia articles incorporating text from public domain works of the United States Government Articles with short description Articles needing additional references from August All articles needing additional references. The government in this case inferred from the unusual amount of heat emanating from certain areas of the exterior that something inside the house in the same general location was generating an unusual amount of heat.

The district court found that the imager “shows a crude visual image of the heat being radiated from the outside of the house,” and that “[t]he device cannot and did not show any people or activity within the walls of the structure.

In certain circumstances, however, a thermal imager has v.nuited capacity to detect radiant heat through windows. The Agema imager shows only relative heat patterns; it does not measure temperature in absolute terms.

Kyllo v. United States – Merits

Garrison Groh v. When a thermal imager is pointed at a wall composed of normal construction materials, such as lath, plaster, plasterboard, stucco, or brick, it detects the radiation v.hnited is emitted or reflected from the outside surface of the wall.

It is worth noting, however, that while petitioner certainly did not subjectively expect that activities within his statee would be observed through high technology surveillance, the thermal imager did not intrude on that expectation.

HicksU. Hayden United States v. Dunn California v. Williams United States v.