With the rapid increases in technology, there is the potential decrease in your personal privacy as police officers use technology to watch your every movement. No where is this more apparent than in the use of GPS devices by police officers to monitor cars. Prior to January 23rd, 2011, the courts did not take a firm stance on whether a police officer can use a GPS device on your car. But now there is solid law that protects your privacy from officers following your every move.
In a recent decision, U.S. v. Jones, the United States Supreme Court decided that there are limitations on when a police officer can use a GPS device on your car. Specifically, the court urges police officers to obtain a valid warrant prior to placing a GPS device on a car. In making this decision, it appears that the court will weigh a number of issues when deciding whether the police can or cannot put a GPS device on a car.
The first issue is how long the police intend to leave the device on the car and monitor the car. If the police intend on leaving the device on the car for a long period of time, the court should find it to be unlawful and the information gained from the GPS device will be kept out of court. If the police only place the device on the car for a short period of time, the court is more likely to find that the search was lawful.
The second issue in question is what types of crimes should police be allowed to use GPS devices for? For example, should the police be able to monitor a person with a GPS device if the crime involves cyber-crime? What about drug crimes? Certainly there are cases that lend themselves to GPS monitoring and cases that do not. It appears that the court will be reluctantly to allow evidence collected by a GPS device into court if the connection between the crime and the monitoring is not clear.
Third, there is an issue of what police officers need to do before attaching a GPS device to a car. With a valid warrant, it is clear that the police can attach the device. Without a warrant, it appears that the officer must at the very least meet the requirements for a warrant before attaching the device (i.e., the officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred or is occurring and the officer can particularly describe the evidence sought).
If you are facing a case where a police officer has placed a GPS device on your car, you would do well to contact the best criminal defense attorney available in the Denver Colorado area to discuss the law and how it applies to your particular case.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.