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Police Use of Range-R Devices: Does Their Use Constitute a Violation of the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees all citizens to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures of their papers, effects, and of their home. Hundred of thousands of cases and hundred of thousands of journal pages have been devoted to expounding upon the meaning of what the Fourth Amendment guarantees with regards to a citizen’s right to privacy and the home. As technology continues to evolve, our privacy issues become more complex and extremely complicated to evaluate, especially as police technology and devices have been advancing to meet the ever-evolving technological tactics of criminals. But, at the end of the day, all agree that no matter the evolution of technology, and the good and bad associated with technological progress, citizens have the right to privacy in their home and in their papers and effects.

The Range-R Device

New policing devices have been toeing the Fourth Amendment “unreasonable” line as of late. A radar system founded in Orlando known as the Range-R is thrusting Fourth Amendment rights to the forefront of the public eye. The Range-R is a handheld device which uses waves to detect people and motion through average building materials. The device has an accurate rate of 95 percent, and can even sense the breathing cadence of a human being. The device emits radio waves which travel through common building surfaces and report back if they strike any type of irregularity within 50 feet.

The Pros of the Range-R Device Technology

When used as an emergency system to locate people caught in dangerous situations, such as victims in burning buildings or trapped in the rubble after a natural disaster, its uses are automatically valued.

The Issue with Regards to the Use of Range-R Devices

In terms of the criminal justice system, and as a police tactic, many believe it’s an infringement of the Fourth Amendment, especially when used to “see” through a building to figure out if anyone (a criminal defendant in particular) is in the home.

The “seeing” through the building can constitute an unreasonable search of the home if the police officer does not have a search warrant. Even if the officer has an arrest warrant, he or she is not able to exceed the scope of the warrant and cannot search the property, barring specific and notable exceptions.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Take on Devices Which Reveal the Inside of the Home

The Supreme Court is not a novice to cases involving devices which may disclose the inside occurrences within someone’s home. In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a case involving a thermal camera which was able to scan the defendant’s home to reveal the inside of the house. (In this case, the police suspected that the defendant was growing marijuana in the house and was using the thermal camera to detect the use of heated lamps necessary for marijuana growth.) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the use of a thermal camera constituted a search, and therefore the law enforcement required a search warrant and any search without a warrant was presumptively unreasonable.

The use of the Range-R devices came to light only recently when a criminal appeals case revealed the use of the Range-R devices in the location of a defendant who had violated his parole. Law enforcement in this case had an arrest warrant but not a search warrant. Though the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the search, it will only be a matter of time before the issue will be submitted and decided on by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense but believe that your arrest was made in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation.

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