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U.S. Supreme Court To Decide Whether The Use Of GPS Devices Vioates The Fourth Amendment

This November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in United States v. Jones, which looks at whether or not police who use GPS devices to track suspects, violates their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. As an Orange County California Criminal Defense Attorney, this case deals with one of the most important amendment rights, that being our right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In United States v. Jones, police tracked a suspect’s movements over a period of time with a GPS device that they had attached to his vehicle. Jones’ position is that this violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures and further that a search warrant based on probable cause should have been obtained first.

The Fourth Amendment requires police to refrain from invading only that privacy which exists before police come on the scene. Absent a search warrant or other justification for invading your privacy, police are required to honor your privacy.

A GPS device records every trip you make, keeping an ongoing tally of everywhere you go and everyone you see. This information includes much of what we consider personal and private. It exposes information about doctors we see, people we spend time with our activities we enjoy in our free time, some of which may be extremely personal. This inflicts a serious intrusion into what we consider our personal space and privacy as we go through our lives.

If the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the United States in the Jones case, it will mean that police will be able to use GPS devices to track any vehicle for any length of time, much like a fishing expedition. The Fourth Amendment was designed to maximize the degree to which innocent people enjoy freedom from governmental invasions of their privacy.

It is important to be aware that police officers are not responsible for or required to advise you of your rights to refuse an illegal search. They are not required to tell you whether or not they can make a permissible search, that you can withhold permission for them to enter your home, nor that they have a right to seize anything in plain view.

If a search warrant is obtained, it is presumed it was obtained lawfully. Under California search and seizure laws, the burden is on the defense to prove that the warrant was invalid or unlawfully executed. Some examples of invalid or unlawful execution of warrants include: proving that the judge was misled by the officer applying for the warrant; proving that the warrant lacked the specifics regarding the place to be searched or things to be seized; and proving that the judge signing the warrant acted with interest or bias.

An aggressive criminal defense attorney should file a motion to suppress any evidence that was obtained via an improper search and seizure. If the motion is granted, oftentimes, your case will be dismissed.


If you would like to know more about illegal search and seizure or any criminal matter, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.