Tuesday, January 24, 2012

U.S. v. Jones: A Victory for Privacy Rights?

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court announced an important new decision which should make all believers in freedom and privacy rights breathe a little bit easier.  In United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from using GPS devices to track a suspect's movements without first obtaining a search warrant.  In other words, warrantless use of GPS devices are no longer allowed! 

In the Jones case, the police were investigating a nightclub owner for alleged drug trafficking.  They had surreptitiously installed a GPS device on Mr. Jones' Jeep Grand Cherokee and were tracking his moevements, all without first obtaining a warrant.  The government had argued that no warrant was necessary.  However, the Supreme Court held otherwise and gave new hope to freedom lovers everywhere!

As a former federal prosecutor, (and currently, as an Augusta, Ga. criminal defense attorney), I strongly agree with this important decision!  First of all, I submit that it is not that difficult for police to simply obtain a search warrant in an appropriate case.  Moreover, I believe that, in a free society, in which our privacy rights are constantly being threatened by technology, it is important to see the Supreme Court protect us and stand as a bulwark of freedom!

It will be interesting to see the caselaw develop in this area of the law.  What do you think?

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