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Can the police use a drone to search your property?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Drones play an increasing role in modern society, bringing several ethical issues into question. Anything that flies almost imperceptibly above our heads can breach our right to privacy in ways that human beings cannot.

One area where this is causing concern is the use of drones by the police. The Fourth Amendment protects people’s rights to go about their lives without the police watching their every move. It affords people privacy on their property and in their homes. If the police want to search your property, they almost always need a search warrant. 

Drones could be more effective at snooping on you 

You can adapt drones to carry everything from a deadly charge to a camera to a microphone. While it is unlikely you need to worry about the police using drones to take you out, they could use them to get incriminating images or recordings.

Some may argue this is a good thing. It could help catch criminals and reduce the number of police searches that go wrong and end up with people being injured or killed. Yet it would be a massive infringement of privacy.

In January of this year, New Jersey lawmakers introduced a bill to regulate drone use. Part of the bill suggests applying similar restrictions to those that apply to physical police searches. In most cases, the police would need a warrant unless a crime is happening, about to happen, or just happened. It would clarify that illegally obtained drone evidence would be inadmissible in court.

The bill has not yet passed, so if the police accuse you of a crime, get legal help to see if they broke any rules when gaining the evidence they present.