The 4th Amendment has been resuscitated!! That is good news for Maine citizens arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) and other criminal offenses. Hopefully you recall back in September of 2010, I wrote about GPS tracking devices and a recent decision from the District of Columbia Circuit (“GPS Tracking Devices – A Warrant or Not A Warrant – That is Now the Question”). Well, on Monday we got our answer; kind of….
In United States v. Antoine Jones, #10-1259 Justice Scalia wrote the decision of the Court, that said the Government’s installation of the GPS tracking device on the suspect’s vehicle to monitor it’s movements was a search within the meaning of the 4th Amendment, and thus a warrant was required prior to its installation.
The Court rejected the government’s argument that the attachment of a GPS device was not a search, but seemed to struggle over how long you could track the vehicle with or without a warrant and declined to opine on other details, like whether the warrant requirement applied to tracking cell phones. It appears that Justice Sotomayor was certainly ready to cast a much wider net and restrict government activity. My favorite line in the opinion comes from Justice Scalia, on page #12 of his opinion: “We may have to grapple with these ‘vexing problems’ in some future case where a classic trespassory search is not involved in resort must be had toKatz analysis; but there is no reason for rushing forward to resolve them here.”
It will certainly wait for another day, because this entire issue is bound to launch challenges to governmental activity from Presque Isle to Pearl Harbor. This electronic element that technology has injected into law enforcement, whether it’s OUI’s, drug, embezzlement or child porn cases is personally fascinating to me, and I hope it is to you too; at a personal level it should be, because anyone knowing where you are, who you were talking to or what you are texting or searching on Google because of some linkage to an electronic device that has become part of you like underwear should concern all of us.
If you have been accused by the police in Maine of OUI, “Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs”, possession of a controlled drug or any alleged motor vehicle or criminal offense, feel free to call Attorney John Webb today at 207-283-6400 and arrange a free consultation to discuss your case or visit:www.nicholswebb.com.