January 23, 2012

GPS Drug Search Tossed by Supreme Court

Drug Defense Attorneys can celebrate today. S.Ct. holds GPS is search under 4th Amend. Privacy is still alive in the criminal justice system. We previously wrote about Drug cases and GPS tracking here:


http://drug2go.blogspot.com/2010/08/drug-case-tossed-gps-tracking-device.html

Facts:

The Government obtained a search warrant permitting it to install a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device on a vehicle registered to respondent Jones’s wife. The warrant authorized installation in the District of Columbia and within 10 days, but agents installed the device on the 11th day and in Maryland. The Government then tracked the vehicle’s movements for 28 days. It subsequently secured an indictment of Jones and others on drug trafficking conspiracy charges. The District Court suppressed the GPS data obtained while the vehicle was parked at Jones’s residence, but held the remaining data admissible because Jones had no reasonable expectation of privacy when the vehicle was on public streets.

Jones was convicted. 

The D. C. Circuit reversed, concluding that admission of the evidence obtained by warrantless use of the GPS device violated the Fourth Amendment.

Held: The Government’s attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.

The full text of the GPS Tracking decision can be found here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf

http://www.centrallaw.com/CentralLawQualifications.html