Can Police Track Suspect by GPS Without a Warrant?
Is this a Violation of the Fourth Amendment Rights Regarding Search and Seizure?
The U.S. Justice Department is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision requiring police to get a warrant before attaching a global positioning device (GPS) to a suspect’s car. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal urged the Supreme Court to grant cert (review of lower court’s decision) to resolve a circuit split, according to the Washington Post.
At issue is whether use of the device is a “search” under the Fourth Amendment and whether a person has an expectation of privacy [important]“right to privacy” not a constitutional guarantee but is considered as generally guaranteed as an expectation[/important]for his travel in public. The police used a GPS device to record the movements of accused cocaine dealer Antoine Jones, including his trips to a stash house where police found cocaine and $850,000 in cash. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned Jones’ conviction because police did not get a warrant.The government contends the GPS device can be installed under a 1983 Supreme Court case, United States v. Knotts, which allowed police to install a beeper device in a can of chemical used to make drugs. But that’s hardly the same as a person’s automobile, is it?
No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy Says Government
There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a person’s movements from one place to another, the government argues in its brief posted by Threat Level. The D.C. Circuit said the case did not apply because it involved tracking from one place to another, while the GPS was used to track a person’s movements “24 hours a day for 28 days.”Washington, D.C., lawyer Daniel Prywes calls United States v. Jones “the seminal privacy case of the 21st Century,” the Post says. He wrote a brief in the case for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Stay tuned to this blog for up to date information on this case.
Meanwhile, remember if you or a family member, or friend have been charged with a crime, seek legal advice from a criminal attorney immediately.