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POLICE CAN’T USE GPS DEVICES WITHOUT A WARRANT

Criminal Defense Attorneys

breathed a sigh of relief today. The US Supreme Court has now made it official. Cops can’t place a black box on the back of a suspects car without a warrant.

This tactic was gaining popularity among the police. Due to rapid changes in technology, GPS devices have gotten incredibly cheap and easy for police departments to get hold of.

The Supreme Court Justices overthrew the conviction of Antoine Jones. Their decision was unanimous. However, the rationale for the ban was mixed.

In general, the justices believed that the vehicle was a protected area. In order to attach a GPS device, the police would have to encroach upon the protected area.

Left uncertain, however, is whether the police can use pre-installed GPS devices that come as standard features on many modern cars. The split decision of the court leaves that issue unknown.

Other justices used more sweeping reasoning, saying police might violate the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches even when they obtain GPS signals without having to attach a device to a car. With vehicles increasingly coming equipped with GPS technology, officers might not need to attach an additional device in many future cases.

As a criminal defense attorney, it shocks me that police used the tactics that they did. To think that they could monitor your movements, your exact location, without a warrant for weeks, months or years.

It stands to reason that the Court would put some limit on the State’s authority to monitor its citizens. It is scary, however, to think that this issue is still undecided. What if the police develop the technology to access your car’s computer without your knowledge. What if this accessing is deemed constitutional? Then this will give the police the ability to effectively know where you have gone, how long you stayed there, and how fast you traveled.

The Supreme Court clearly has their hands full. With all the technology available to the police, it won’t be long before every agency has the ability to track vehicle movement through license plate readers. What then will happen. Will we just take for granted that if we take a weekend trip the cops will know all about it?

As a criminal defense attorney, I can tell you that the answer is yes. We already have lost so many rights, and we will no longer have any real privacy to speak of in the near, near future.

Criminal defense attorney
Nick Alcock practices in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004