Supreme Court Rules Unanimously that Warrant Needed for GPS Tracking

Supreme Court Rules Unanimously that Warrant Needed for GPS Tracking

In a unanimous 9-0 decision announced Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must have a warrant to use GPS tracking technology.

The case in question involved a Washington, D.C. nightclub owner, Antoine Jones, who was believed to be drug trafficking on the side. Police used the GPS tracking technology attached to his wife’s car to eventually tie him to a stash house where nearly 100 kilos of cocaine and more than $850,000 was found.

Thanks to the items discovered at the house, Jones was eventually sentenced to life in prison. The sentence and conviction was later overturned on appeal because of the warrantless tracking.

All nine justices thankfully agreed the search violated Jones’ privacy rights, but disagreed on exactly why.

More surprising was that law enforcement in the case had an idea that GPS tracking was something a warrant was needed for. Originally, a judge granted a warrant to place a tracker on the vehicle involved within 10 days and only in the District of Columbia. But the tracker was placed one day after the warrant expired and in the state of Maryland.

The complete ruling can be found here.

While it’s bothersome to see an obvious big-time drug dealer go free, it’s even more disturbing that the law enforcement in the case thought nothing of shoving the Fourth Amendment aside when placing the tracking equipment.

Posted by Brent Dirks on Jan 23, 2012


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