Supreme Court Rules Warrantless GPS Tracking Violates Fourth Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court put to rest any discussion of whether or not law enforcement needs to get a warrant to stick a GPS tracking device on your car. The answer is a unanimous “yep”. All nine court justices agreed that placing a GPS tracking device on someone’s vehicle without a warrant constitutes an unlawful search, per the Fourth Amendment. Justice Scalia (pictured) delivered the court’s opinion.

The case arose from the prosecution of a D.C.-area nightclub owner named Antoine Jones who was suspected of drug trafficking. In a joint effort, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department staked out the nightclub, aimed a camera at the facility’s front door, and tapped Jones’ phone. Based on information gathered from the above, they also put a GPS tracking device on a car belonging to his wife.

Law enforcement got a warrant for the GPS device that gave them 10 days to put the thing on Jones’ car, but they didn’t get it done until the 11th day. Thus, they essentially tracked him with a GPS unit without a warrant. The GPS did come through for law enforcement, helping them build a strong case and make an arrest.

Although Jones was eventually found guilty of the charges against him, the conviction was overturned on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which found that the unwarranted use of the GPS device violated Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Somewhat buried in this case, however, is a curious tidbit: law enforcement did get a warrant for the GPS tracking device, indicating that they knew it was important to have one, or presumably they wouldn’t have bothered. The issue was that they failed to install the device within the 10 days the warrant allotted them. What a difference a day makes.
cowboyspace 2 years ago

If Law enforcements breaks the rules why won't a hacker/ drug dealer/thief? if the ones that create the rules break it.

timmee1977 2 years ago


CDeeter 2 years ago

Man, things like this just don't happen on CSI! Get your act together boys in blue. 10 days is quite awhile not to get it done.

cowboyspace 2 years ago

What charges are the facing the law enforcement agents for violating the 4th amendment? 

beleiveit 2 years ago

Tell me it isn't happening!

Apparently, Canada is 3 months AHEAD of the United States with this.

I just read that the RCMP and Canada's 4 Provincial Police Forces(Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador) have concluded applications regarding use of public domain information on satellites, GPS, OnStar, Ford Sync, Toyota, Mercedes, and other Auto manufacturer services. During these low key(read hushed up) legal maneuvers, they have put together computer systems which will take the GPS information and coordinate it with roadway data systems that include the posted speed limits.

This technology enables them to know in real time, who we are, exactly where we are(within 6 feet), what road or highway we are on, what direction we are travelling, and what speed we are travelling.

For the first 60 days ONLY, they will send out warning letters. After the initial 60 days, they will begin issuing speeding tickets based on the above systems.

Because it uses existing satellites and hardware, it is rumoured that the set up cost has been very low. Independent sources estimate capital cost to be below $265,000

Experts predict this to be the single most effective deterrent to speeding since the '60's, and expect significant reductions in accident rates. Even speculating marked decreases in insurance costs to filter down to the consumer within 2 to 3 years.

Apparently the systems are more accurate than any radar guns in present use, cost much less to administer, and will free up police to pursue other crime.

The RCMP have predicted that in the first year alone, they will recover the entire cost of implementation 10 times over.

Because the Canadian driving public will need to be "retrained" to not speed, it is expected that revenues in the first 12 months of operation will surpass 357 million dollars, with a possible decrease in subsequent years as speeding is reduced.

A Quick Look at Speeding Crashes in Canada:

Ontario to impose $10,000 fines for speeding:

I think I'll go out and buy a 2 cylinder car.

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