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Showing posts from March, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Installation & Monitoring of GPS Tracking Device on Suspect’s Vehicle Constitutes a Search

The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously this past January that attaching a GPS device to suspect’s car constitutes a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus requires a valid search warrant. The case, United States v. Jones, arose when the Washington D.C. police department installed a GPS device on Mr. Jones’ car as part of a drug trafficking investigation. They tracked his movements for almost a month, ultimately leading them to a stash house in Maryland containing nearly 100 kilos of cocaine and $1 million.

A trial court convicted Jones and sentenced him to life in prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed, finding that the police’s gathering of evidence after its warrant for the GPS tracking device had expired violated the Fourth Amendment. Once before the Supreme Court, the justices faced the question of what constitutes reasonable privacy rights in the digital era.

The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia – joined by Roberts, Kenn…