DEA Conducts Video Surveillance on Private Property Without a Search Warrant

In Wisconsin, there is a pending marijuana case that started when the police received a tip that the defendant was growing marijuana plants on his property. The local police solicited the assistance of the DEA who went on the property without consent and without a search warrant and installed video cameras to record the marijuana grow operation and the activities of the defendant who owned the land. Once the video cameras recorded the defendant handling marijuana from the marijuana plants, the DEA obtained a search warrant. The police found thousands of marijuana plants on the property and arrested the defendant on multiple serious marijuana charges.

The criminal defense lawyer for the defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence on video and also the evidence seized by police after obtaining the search warrant. The defendant had a large piece of property, but it was marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs. The state argued that the DEA went into an open field and the DEA agents were not trespassing. For some reason, the Wisconsin court decided it was legal for the government to come onto the defendant’s property and install surveillance cameras without a search warrant. Normally, the police would need a search warrant to enter upon a person’s private property to search or conduct surveillance. However, the case has been appealed to the United States Supreme Court so the ultimate decision as to whether the DEA acted legally has not yet been made.

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