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Another Court Rules that Thermal Imaging is Not a Search


March 1995

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled on Feb. 1 that the use of thermal imaging technology to obtain evidence for the purposes of a search warrant does not constitute a search (U.S. v. Myers, No. 94-1912, 1995WL38118; BNA Criminal Practice Manual, Feb. 15, 1995, p. 95).

Thermal imaging maps relative amounts of heat that are coming from a building and has been used to obtain search warrants for suspected marijuana-growing operations.

The court ruled in this case that the defendant did not have an expectation of privacy about the heat coming from his house under the meaning of a search in the Fourth Amendment.

In the Sept./Oct. issue of NewsBriefs, we reported that most federal courts have ruled that use of thermal imaging by police does not constitute a search ("Thermal Imaging -- Newest Weapon in 'War on Drugs;' Court Rules Use Is Not a Search," NewsBriefs, Sept./Oct. 1994, p. 6)