Can the police place a GPS tracking device on your car without a warrant?
The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Jones resoundingly ruled NO!
In a rare 9-0 decision, the justices held that makes it unlawful if police place a GPS device on a suspect’s car without a warrant. The court decided that the defendant’s conviction had to be reversed the evidence used to convict him was obtained with a GPS tracking device that police attached to his car without a warrant.
While the decision was 9-0, the court was split on how it reached that decision:
- In the majority opinion, Justice Scalia concluded that attaching the GPS device was a trespass. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas and Sotomayor joined in the decision.
- Justice Alito said he believed that the long-term GPS monitoring of the defendant’s movements violated his reasonable expectations of privacy. Alito was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan.
- Justice Sotomayor agreed with the majority opinion but opined she believed that the case turned on the narrower issue of that placing the device on the car was an unlawful physical intrusion upon private property.