California v. Ciraolo
This article needs attention from an expert in U.S. Supreme Court cases or Law.(October 2008)
|California v. Ciraolo|
|Argued December 10, 1985|
Decided May 19, 1986
|Full case name||California v. Ciraolo|
|Citations||476 U.S. 207 (more)|
106 S. Ct. 1809; 90 L. Ed. 2d 210
|Prior history||Pleaded guilty in trial court; reversed by California Court of Appeal|
|The Fourth Amendment was not violated by the naked-eye aerial observation of respondent's backyard.|
|Majority||Burger, joined by White, Rehnquist, Stevens, O'Connor|
|Dissent||Powell, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun|
|U.S. Const. amend. IV|
California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207 (1986), was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court, in which it ruled that warrantless aerial observation of a person's backyard did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Dante Carlo Ciraolo grew marijuana plants in his backyard, shielded from view by two fences. After receiving an anonymous tip, the Santa Clara police sent officers in a private airplane to fly over and take aerial photographs of his property at an altitude of 1,000 feet. Based on an officer's naked eye observation, a search warrant was granted. After the trial court rejected Ciraolo's motion to suppress the evidence (under the exclusionary rule), he pleaded guilty. The California Court of Appeal reversed the decision, holding that the aerial observation was an intrusion into the curtilage of his home and therefore the Fourth Amendment.
Opinion of the court
Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for the 5-4 majority, referring to Katz v. United States. He concluded, "The Fourth Amendment simply does not require the police traveling in the public airways at this altitude to obtain a warrant in order to observe what is visible to the naked eye."
Justice Powell wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun joined. Also citing Katz, Powell argued that the decision ignored that case's two-part test.
In arguing that Ciraolo did have a reasonable expectation of privacy, Powell notes:
the actual risk to privacy from commercial or pleasure aircraft is virtually nonexistent. Travelers on commercial flights, as well as private planes used for business or personal reason, normally obtain at most a fleeting, anonymous, and nondiscriminating glimpse of the landscape and buildings over which they pass. The risk that a passenger on such a plane might observe private activities, and might connect those activities with particular people, is simply too trivial to protect against.
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 476
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- List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Rehnquist Court