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  • Privacy Laws: What You Need to Know in Georgia

    Written on July 6, 2015

    Privacy is something that has been in the news lately. Earlier this month, certain sections of The Patriot Act expired which had allowed the federal government and other law enforcement agencies the right to monitor communications and telephone records of millions of citizens.  There are a number of other privacy rights and issues that could affect people on a local level.

    Everyone has the right to privacy in their own home. This includes protection from law enforcement officers coming into your home without the legal authority to do so as well as protection from private individuals invading your privacy. There are several reasons why the police may come to your door. Officers could have an arrest warrant, a search warrant or be responding to a 911 call.

    If officers are searching for a person because they have an arrest warrant, they must have the resident’s consent before entering the home unless they have a reasonable belief the person is inside.  If there isn’t proof that the suspect is inside, the police can’t just barge inside because they think the person is there.

    If a 911 call is made, the police do have the right to come inside your house if they are acting in good faith that someone needs help or because a crime has been committed. Once inside, officers don’t have the right to search through drawers or cupboards. However, if something illegal is in plain sight, the homeowner could have serious legal problems.

    It’s against the law for private citizens to “spy” on someone by looking in their window. This is known as the Peeping Tom law. It prevents a person from coming onto your property and looking in the windows. It’s important to remember, however, that if someone is walking by your house and your windows are open there isn’t any law that prevents them from looking inside as long as they remain on the road or sidewalk.

    Over the next few years, drones may come to the forefront of the privacy discussion. Drones are unmanned aircrafts that are inexpensive and may be used by private citizens or corporations. Drones have the ability to fly very low to the ground, or over someone’s property, and potentially take photographs. There are FAA regulations that apply to drones, but there aren’t any current laws in Georgia that relate to drones. There may be laws in the near future that regulate at what height a drone may fly over your house, but for now a drone may occupy the airspace over your home the same way a helicopter could.

    If you have a legal question regarding privacy, or believe your rights have been violated, call The Silverbach Group today. We are a full service law firm and are here to answer your questions. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.


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