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US government needs warrant to track cars with GPS, court says

by GPS4US 2013-10-23 16:55

The US government cannot attach a GPS unit to a car without a warrant, a Federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Thursday.

The case stems from a series of drug store robberies in which authorities attached a magnetic GPS unit to the car of a suspect after consulting the US Attorney’s office, but without obtaining a warrant. After tracking the suspects, law enforcement officials confronted the three suspects after their trip to a RiteAid, finding stolen items from the store inside the car.

The suspects argued that that evidence should not be admissible because it was obtained without a warrant. A district court agreed with the men, and the three-judge Federal appeals panel upheld that ruling on Tuesday. The judges found that the actions of the police were “highly disconcerting” under the physical intrusion theory of the fourth amendment. The government argued the evidence was ok because they had probably cause.


Generally speaking, a warrantless search is not rendered reasonable merely because probable cause existed that would have justified the issuance of a warrant,” one judge said.

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