In our last post we discussed issues surround warrantless searches using new technologies. Particularly, the issue of GPS data has become a pertinent topic as more and more criminal cases appear in the courts that rely on extensive GPS data.
One case working its way through the system involves a Missouri man who is accused of fraud.
The man, a St. Louis resident, has been charged with improper use of public funds related to his job working for the City of St. Louis. He came under suspicion in 2009 and the FBI attached a tracking device to his car in January 2010 without first getting a warrant. The GPS tracking device was on the man's car for two months and was transmitting information to law enforcement officials 24 hours a day.
The man is seeking to have the evidence gathered with that device suppressed so that it cannot be used against him in during a trial. Prosecutors working on the case say that the tracking device did not constitute a search and should not require a warrant.
This conclusion seems to be directly contrary to the most recent Supreme Court ruling on the matter, but the defendant has still struggled to have his rights respected. One of the major issues is that search occurred before the Supreme Court had handed down the decision on GPS devices, which means that the search was legal at the time but is now illegal. It follows to reason that the evidence, now deemed to have been illegally obtained, should not be allowed in a trial that has not yet taken place.
The motion to suppress the evidence was denied in a motion that the defendant made before the trial. That denial is now before a district court in Eastern Missouri, where advocates on both sides of the issue are lining up to defend their position.
Source: Ars Technica, "ACLU: "reasonable suspicion" not good enough for GPS tracking," Cyrus Farivar, July 17, 2012.