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California v. Ciraolo

United States Supreme Court
476 U.S. 207 (1986)



Santa Clara Police Officers went to Ciraolo’s (defendant) home to investigate an anonymous tip that marijuana was being grown in the backyard. The yard was shielded from view by a six-foot perimeter fence and a ten-foot interior fence. The officers then flew over the house in a private plane and observed marijuana growing in the yard. The officers took photos with a standard 35 mm camera from a distance of 1,000 feet. Using the anonymous tip and the photos, police were able to secure a search warrant on September 8, 1982. The following day police seized 73 marijuana plants from Ciraolo’s property. The California Court of Appeals reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits the warrantless aerial observation of an enclosed area within the curtilage of a home from a distance of 1,000 feet.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Dissent (Powell, J.)

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