Judge OKs Police Cameras With No Warrant

Cameras placed by police without a warrant were found not to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of two suspected marijuana farmers.

by / October 31, 2012

Wisconsin police planted cameras on private property without a warrant and a judge ruled that the act did not violate the Fourth Amendment. According to Ars Technica, the judge ruled that the Fourth Amendment only protects the home and land directly outside the home, and the cameras were placed in open fields far from any residence. The ruling further specified that Fourth Amendment protections of "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," do not pertain to this case.

The police were attempting to catch marijuana farmers in a heavily wooded area that had a locked gate and “no trespassing” signs posted. Despite these precautions taken by the two alleged marijuana farmers, the judge found the suspects had not established the "reasonable expectation of privacy” required for Fourth Amendment protection. The two suspects did not own the property in question.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the use of technology as a substitute for ordinary police surveillance," the judge held. It would be legal for the police to enter a private field to collect evidence, therefore, the judge concluded, it is also legal to install cameras there.