Placement of GPS tracker and monitoring for several months not a search | MassCops

Placement of GPS tracker and monitoring for several months not a search

Discussion in 'Court Decisions' started by Gil, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Gil

    Gil Founder of MassCops Staff Member

    Federal Appeal Court 2010 recent case

    Placement of GPS tracker and monitoring for several months not a search

    Drug task force officers in Iowa learned that a white pickup truck was being used to carry marijuana. Officers placed a GPS tracking device on the bumper and monitored the tracker for several months, discovering that the truck was traveling to and from Denver. On seven occasions, the officers changed the batteries on the tracker while the truck was parked in a public place. Several search warrants were executed, including a warrant for Marquez's home in Iowa. Officers seized hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and seized guns and scales at Marquez's home. Marquez claimed that the placement of the GPS tracker on his truck was a search.

    The court of appeals first held that Marquez did not have legal standing to challenge the search because he was not the owner or driver, but only an occasional passenger in the truck. However, the court also held that no Fourth Amendment violation occurred in the tracker placement. The tracker installation was non-invasive and the installation and all battery changes happened in public places. The tracker only revealed movement that could be observed by an officer watching or following the truck. The court noted that the tracker installation "merely allowed the police to reduce the cost of lawful surveillance." Officers should be aware that some states may have more restrictive statutes or case law. For example, in People v. Weaver, 909 N.E.2d 1195 (N.Y. 2009), the New York Court of Appeals imposed greater limits under the state constitution. United States v. Marquez, 605 F.3d 604 (8th Cir. 2010).
     

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