Back in September, we shared a drug crime post involving a Maryland drug case that made it to the Supreme Court. The central controversy of the drug case was whether police have the constitutional right to track suspects using a GPS device before getting a warrant.
The decision has been made, and it means big news for the Maryland distribution defendant. Thus far, the legal process landed the defendant in prison for life. But the high court’s recent ruling overturns his trafficking conviction.
According to Bloomberg, the justices agreed that a person has a constitutional right to privacy and that placing a GPS device on a suspect’s car without a warrant violates his right against unreasonable search and seizure. In the Maryland drug case, the GPS was reportedly on the suspect’s car for about a month.
The GPS issue seemed even more pressing because of the updates to current car models. Now, so many vehicles come with GPS devices already installed, potentially making it even easier for police to track a person’ whereabouts without even having to attach their own device. The Supreme Court’s decision protects potential criminal suspects from having their privacy so easily violated by authorities.
Keep in mind, the ruling against GPS use refers to the use of the device without a warrant. If authorities have sufficient reason to seek a warrant and a judge agrees that a warrant is merited, police could then move forward and use GPS tracking as a means to build a case against a criminal suspect.
Since this is a recent ruling, it’s likely that we will see more debates surrounding GPS tracking come up. We will post an update if any such developments emerge.
Bloomberg: “Police Use of GPS to Track Suspects’ Cars Is Limited by U.S. Supreme Court,” Greg Stohr, Jan. 23, 2012
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044