The United States Supreme Court decided today the case of United States v. Antoine Jones. They sought and obtained a search warrant permitting it to install a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device on a vehicle registered to Jones’ wife. The government was authorized to install the tracking device within 10 days in Washington, DC from the date of the warrant. The agents installed the device on the 11th day and in Maryland. The government tracked the movement of the vehicle for 28 days and later indicted Jones and others on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. The trial court suppressed the GPS data while the car was parked at Jones’ residence but not while it traversed the city claiming Jones had no reasonable expectation of privacy on public streets.
Jones was later convicted and appealed. The D.C. Circuit reversed finding that the Fourth Amendment was violated by the introduction of the evidence obtained from the warrantless use of the GPS device.
The United States Supreme Court held that hte government’s attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of the device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.
This is an important decision of the Supreme Court preserving our individual rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. No longer will law enforcement be able to install and monitor a vehicle with a GPS device without a valid court order.