Supreme Court Rules Warrant Needed by Police to Track Suspects Using GPS

The Supreme Court issued a very interesting ruling on January 23 regarding GPS tracking of suspects by law enforcement. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government needs a search warrant from a judge before it tracks any suspect using high-tech monitoring devices.

The Supreme Court justices did not agree with the U.S. Justice Department’s view that the use of a GPS device was a reasonable means of tracking a motorist on a public highway. This ruling represents a significant complication for law enforcement across the country as they are increasingly reliant on high tech surveillance, such as different types of GPS technology, to track and monitor suspects.

The ruling stems from a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that by secretly installing a GPS device to a vehicle owned by a drug suspect, both the police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. A GPS device was installed on a nightclub owner’s Jeep in Washington, D.C., which ultimately helped law enforcement link him to a suburban house that was used to stash money and drugs. The court deemed that the secret installation of the GPS device was considered a “search,” and the Fourth Amendment is intended to protect U.S. residents against government searches of private property. Overall, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia concluded that the installation of the device on the vehicle without a warrant was a trespass and therefore is considered to be an illegal search.

It is crucial that any Maryland resident facing drug charges, and thus severe penalties, ensure their constitutional and legal rights are protected throughout their case, from the arrest to the trial. The Waldorf criminal defense lawyers with Alpert Schreyer, LLC will work diligently to ensure you receive a fair trial and work to get your charges dismissed or penalties reduced. For information on how we can help you with your case, please call (866) 444-6363 for a free and confidential consultation.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.