Long Lake Township hired a drone company to take pictures of the Maxon’s property to establish that the property was an illegal salvage yard. Long Lake Township filed a civil action against the Maxon’s and used photographs gathered from the drone as evidence. The Maxon’s moved to suppress the drone photographs as violating the 4th Amendment. The trial court denied the Maxon’s motion to suppress the drone images finding they did not a reasonable expectation of privacy. Long Lake Township appealed the trial court’s denial.

On March 18, 2021, the State of Michigan Court of Appeals published their opinion holding that “persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their property against drone surveillance, and therefore a governmental entity seeking to conduct drone surveillance must obtain a warrant or satisfy a traditional exception to the warrant requirement.”

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By Jonathan Rupprecht

Jonathan is an aviation attorney who focuses on unmanned aircraft. He holds an FAA Commercial Pilot certificate and is also an FAA certified Flight Instructor.