Friday, September 18, 2009

SJC Rules GPS Monitoring of Car is Okay

The Mass. Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that police may secretly break into a suspect's vehicle and install a GPS tracking device if the state first obtains a valid warrant.

In an unanimous decision, the court decided in Commonwealth v. Connolly, that the covert placement of such a device into a private car is a seizure. However, it also said it is not a violation of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights' ban on unreasonable searches and seizures as long as the state establishes “before a magistrate, probable cause to believe that a particularly described offense has been...or is about to be committed, and that GPS monitoring of the vehicle will produce evidence...or will aid in the apprehension of a person" who police believe is responsible for that offense.

While most search warrants are valid for seven days, the court said that GPS monitoring can last up to fifteen days.