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January 23, 2012

United States Supreme Court Says GPS Tracking Requires Warrant

The United States Supreme Court ruled today in a unanimous decision that police must obtain a search warrant before using a GPS device to track a criminal suspect.Law enforcement have begun relying on such high tech devices to track the movements of those suspected of criminal activity.

The case that was before the United States Supreme Court involved a GPS device that had been installed by police to track a nightclub owner. The GPS device helped link him to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before an appeals court overturned the conviction. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the decision to overturn the conviction.

The Court held that the government’s installation of a GPS device, and its use to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constituted a search, which required law enforcement to first obtain a search warrant. In the case before the Court, law enforcement actions by not first obtaining a search warrant violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizure.