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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is a GPS Device Covered Under the Fourth Amendment?

From JDSupra:
Can prosecutors attach a Global Positioning System device to a criminal suspect’s car without a warrant in order to track his movements for weeks or even months?

The D.C. Circuit answered this very 21st-century criminal procedure question last August with a resounding “no.” An ideologically diverse panel composed of Judges Douglas Ginsburg, David Tatel, and Thomas Griffith unanimously ruled that this kind of round-the-clock surveillance requires prosecutors first to go to a judge and get a warrant based on probable cause.

The court found that the act of attaching the GPS device to a suspect’s vehicle is a “search” that requires a warrant under the Fourth Amendment because this type of surveillance is so pervasive and invasive that no one would have a reasonable expectation that it would occur.

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