Sunday, November 3, 2013

United States v. Knotts case brief

United States v. Knotts case brief summary
460 U.S. 276 (1983)

Defendant's motion to suppress evidence based on the warrantless monitoring of a beeper was denied, and he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture controlled substances, including but not limited to methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.S. § 846. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the conviction, finding that the monitoring of the beeper was prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. The Court granted certiorari.

The issue was whether governmental surveillance conducted by means of the beeper, which amounted principally to the following of an automobile on public streets and highways, violated defendant's rights secured by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The appellate court found that the monitoring of the beeper was prohibited by the Fourth Amendment because its use had violated defendant's reasonable expectation of privacy and that all information derived after the location of a cabin was a fruit of the illegal beeper monitoring.

  • The United States Supreme Court reversed, finding that no expectation of privacy extended to the visual observation of defendant's automobile arriving on his premises after leaving a public highway, nor to movements of objects such as the drum of chloroform outside the cabin in the open fields. 
  • The Court found that nothing in the Fourth Amendment prohibited the police from augmenting the sensory faculties bestowed upon them at birth with such enhancement as science and technology afforded them in this case. 
  • The Court held that there was neither a search nor a seizure within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment.


The judgment of the appellate court was reversed.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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