Last Updated 17 Apr 2020

Thermal Imaging

Category Crime, Justice, Privacy
Essay type Research
Words 1258 (5 pages)
Views 419
The case involved a Mr. Smith whos house was suspicious of growing marijuana. The police used thermal technology to scan Mr. smiths house where they found high amounts of heat. The police then got a search warrant and found marijuana growing in his house. Smith was then arrested and entered a conditional guilty plea. Now the high court had to make a decision that would challenge even the greatest lawyer and justice to ever step into the Supreme Court. The case started off with the lawyer for Smith making his case for Smith.

The lawyer stated that that the thermal imaging on Smith's house was indeed a search and that this search was unecessary. His house and privacy were protected by the 4th amendment of the United States. The technology was not used properly and unconstitutionally viewed contents on the inside of Smith's home without a warrant. The thermal imaging devices should have not been able to view just his complex and if he was singled out then everyone should be subject to the same thermal imaging of their homes.

In his final statements Smith's lawyer said that thermal imaging is infact a search and that the thermal imaging had no probably cause and he should go free for this violation of his 4th amendment. The next speaker was the lawyer representing the United States. The lawyer for the United States said that the thermal imaging device brought about a probable cause in the triplex and that he was previously suspected for having marijuana so they had to do it for public safety. He also pointed out that a warrant was issued for the search of his house.

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The United States lawyer ended his statement stating that Smith is a criminal and thermal imaging was used in the case of probable cause. The next speaker was the Solicitor General of the United States. The general was in favor of Smith. He stated that thermal imaging is a search. The thermal imager had no probable cause and that using this high tech device that no normal person can afford should be used without a warrant. The General finished with saying that Smith should go free for this because he was illegally searched.

The fourth amendment of the constitution guards against unreasonable search and seizures when the search party has “reasonable expectation of privacy”. The amendment specifically requires search warrants be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It was adopted as a response to the abuse of search warrants in the American Revolution. The debate of the definition of search has been challenged in many cases in the history of the United States and is brought up again in this case.

The Supreme Court ruled that a search occurs only when a person expects privacy in the thing search and society beliefves that expectation is reasonable. This was decided in Katz v. United States in 1967. In Katz the Court ruled that a search had occurred when the government wiretapped a telephone booth. Now seizure is the other part of the 4th amendment. A Seizure of propert occurs when there is meaningful interference by the government with an individual's possessory interests. The exclusionary rule also falls under seizure.

The exclusionary rule states that voluntary answers to questions given to officers are offered into evidence in a ciminal prosecution. The government may not detain and individual even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds, with few exceptions. The refusal to listen or answers does not answer these grounds. The invasion on people's privacy is only minimal and is usually only in speical cases. Some of these exceptions are at borders and ports of entry into the United States as well as Roadblocks.

Another big part of this case was the question is a warrant needed. A warrant is issued by a judge and only then may a officer legally search someones property. Without this warrant it was unconstitutionally searched and therefore is void. Warrants are required for any search of property. Some exceptions to a warrant are Consent, Plain View, Open Fields, Curtilage, Motor Vehicles and Searches incident to a lawful arrest. Consent is if a part allows a search to happen. Plain view is if something is viewable by the officer he can confiscate it.

Open Fields such as farm fields, opne water, and woods may be searched without a warrant. Curtilage is the outdoor area immediately surrounding the home, which is protected by the 4th amendment. Courts have determined that this area is an extension of the house and is subject to privacy. People in automobiles have reduced privacy because vehicles are not used as homes. Vehicles cannot be randomly stopped and searched , there must be probable cause or ciminal activity. With probable cause officers may search any area inside a car.

However, they cannot search passenger without probable cause to search them. The Searches incident to a lawful arrest are used to prevent the arrested individual from destorying evidence or using a weapon against the officer. It is reasonalbe for the officer to search the area within the arrestee's immediate control. A search of lets say the room they were arrested in is acceptable. Now comes the issue of Probable Cause which was brought up many times in this case. The police must have legally sufficient reasons to believe that a search is necessary.

And during this search they must uncover criminal activity or contraband. The Supreme Court had many cases involving Probable Cause. In Carrol V. United States the Supreme Court stated that probably cause to search is a “flexible, common-sense standard. ” So the issue of probable cause can be a toss up and can't really be determined directly (Adapted from History Book and Wikipedia. com). If I were a justice on the Supreme Court I would rule in favor of Smith. The use of thermal imaging reveals the contents of the inside of his home.

This violates his right of security and thus violates the 4th amendment. The officers did have probable cause to search his house because of his alleged marijuana growth. But that doesn't mean they could search his house without a warrant. They needed to get judicial consent before using the thermal imaging to search his house. Plus thermal imaging is not available to everyone so they could not use it without consent. Our class found Smith innocent. The police unlawfully searched his house with the use of thermal imaging.

Even though we came to this verdict it could have easily gone the other way. It all is based on your view of the Constitution. Unless you are one of the people who wrote the Bill of Rights I guess we can never truly understand the constitution fully and it is proven with the countless cases brought to the Supreme Court over the years. I think instead of us trying to understand the constitution in our own ways, we should study the founding fathers into depth and learn the true meanings of their words and the reasons for why they created this great rules.

Even with the addition of new technologies and advanced software we need to continue to look back at our roots which created this great nation. If we do not do this our nation will likely fall due to our own negligence and feeling of superiority over everyone in the world. We need to learn from our mistakes and build a more simpler life as they had back in the 1700s. Only then will we truly understand The Constitution and the reasons for why we have made it this far as a nation.

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