Police Need Warrants to Track Suspects Using GPS

According to a new Supreme Court decision, police officers must get a warrant before they use a GPS device to track a criminal suspect down.

The decision came in a case out of Washington DC, in which police officers installed a GPS device on a Jeep owned by Antoin Jones. Officers suspected him of drug dealing Jones was monitored in this manner for a period of about 28 days. The GPS device helped police officers link Jones to a suburban house that was used to stash money and drugs. He was arrested, and later, convicted. However, an appeals court later overturned his conviction.

Now the, US Supreme Court has ruled that the officers’ actions in installing a GPS device on the Jeep without Jones’ knowledge, and using the GPS device to monitor the suspect’s movements, constituted an illegal search. A warrant was required here. According to Justice Antonin Scalia, by installing a tracking device in a vehicle being used by Jones, the police encroached his protected area. According to him, installation of the device and tracking of the car was a trespass, and constituted an illegal search.

On the surface of it, this seems like a victory for individual rights to freedom, but on a closer look at the ruling, California criminal defense attorneys find that Supreme Court ruling left many matters untouched. The court had an opportunity here to show unanimity in all aspects of the ruling. However, the justices of the Supreme Court were clearly in two camps on the reasons why they found installing the GPS device on the person’s car, wrong. The 5 justices in the majority ruled that the presence of the device equaled trespass, while the other justices were concerned about the expanded use of surveillance technology, and its effect on constitutional freedoms.

Khalaf & Khalaf
33 South Catalina Avenue
Suite 202
Pasadena, California 91106

Toll Free: (888) 700 - 0066
Office: (626) 486 - 0166
Fax: (626) 486 - 0218
  SE HABLA Español

Si usted necesita un abogado, llame a nuestras oficinas en la actualidad.


The Pasadena, CA law firm of Khalaf & Khalaf serves clients in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, & Orange County; and the citites of Torrance, San Fernando, Alhambra, Bellflower, Victorville, Long Beach, Burbank, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Moreno Valley, Glendale, South Pasadena, Alta Dena, Santa Clarita and throughout Southern California.