Kyllo vs United States

4th Amendment Supreme Court Case

Basic Facts

Federal authorities were suspicious that Danny Kyllo was growing marijuana in his home. Without a warrant, thermal imaging was used to scan Kyllo's home for heat level which were consistent with indoor marijuana growth. The thermal images revealed that there were heat levels which were much higher then surrounding areas. As a result of these thermal images, unusual utility bills, and informants a search warrant was issued and Kyllo was arrested after authorities found growing marijuana. Danny Kyllo filed a motion to have the thermal images be suppressed.

The Issue:

Does the use of a thermal-imaging device to detect relative amounts of heat emanating from a private home constitute an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment?

Precedent Establsihed:

Searches by the government, without a search warrant, with a device that is not in general public use to find evidence which could otherwise not be discovered without physical intrusion violates the 4th amendment and can therefore be thrown out under the exclusionary rule.