United States Supreme Court rules the installation of a GPS device is a search under the 4th Amendment
Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Jones, 565 U.S.__, (No. 10-1259) that law enforcement’s attachment of a global positioning system tracking device on an automobile and its use to monitor that car’s movements constitutes a search under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Court reiterated that the Fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and held that the Government’s physical intrusion on an effect to obtain information constituted a search.
In Jones, the Government secured a warrant that permitted it to place a GPS device on Jones’ wife’s car in the District of Columbia within 10 days of the issuance of the warrant. Instead, law enforcement installed the device on the 11th day in the State of Maryland. Law enforcement then tracked the vehicle’s movements for 28 days. Jones and others were subsequently indicted on drug trafficking conspiracy charges.
With the advent of new technology, it is significant that the Court has ruled that installation of GPS devices on automobiles are covered by the protection of the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The full opinion may be found at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf.