Supreme Court Decision in US v. Jones Significantly Impacts Individual Privacy Rights

Boston DUI lawyers took note of a recent United States Supreme Court decision that will have long-term repercussions on the application of the Fourth Amendment in this highly technological age. The Court’s unanimous decision in US v. Jones, issued on January 23, 2012, found that the attachment of a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to a suspect’s car, outside of the terms of a search warrant, constitutes a violation of his Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

Why Do Boston DUI Lawyers Care About This Case?

In this case, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  agents attached a GPS to the car of Antoine Jones, a Washington D.C. nightclub owner who was being investigated for alleged drug trafficking – after their search warrant had expired. They proceeded to track the suspect’s activity for nearly a month, and used the information they gathered to indict him on federal drug conspiracy charges. Jones was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The defendant filed suit, arguing that the attachment of the GPS was a violation of his constitutional privacy rights, and the lower court agreed. The government argued that GPS devices are frequently utilized in these types of cases, and that their use is too trivial to constitute a violation of property rights. This is a highly important point that Boston DUI attorneys must pay close attention to, as it affects client rights.

The Decision

Although the Justices had varying rationales, the country’s highest court unanimously agreed with the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court ruled that the information gathered through the use of the GPS was inadmissible, as it was obtained in a way that violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights, which guarantee: “persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Court found that this includes personal property such as automobiles. Thus, the defendant’s drug trafficking conviction was reversed.

The Impact of This Case On How Boston DUI Lawyers Practice Is Still Unclear

However, due to the Justice’s different lines of reasoning, it’s relatively unclear how this decision will be applied in future cases. This mainly revolves around the requirement that an individual’s personal property be physically trespassed upon to install the GPS. If authorities had implemented GPS on the defendant’s cell phone without physically intruding on his property, would this still be ruled inadmissible?

One thing is known – the US v. Jones decision will have a significant effect on privacy rights in our digital era. The Constitution establishes an individual’s right to privacy, and this isn’t always honored by law enforcement officials. In most cases, it’s not difficult for police to obtain a search warrant, and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to take this step before conducting searches of our home and property. The Boston DUI lawyers of The Law Offices of Tracy D. Dudevoir can help those who feel their privacy rights have been violated by overzealous law enforcement officials.

Contact Us Today To Learn More About DUI Charges and Privacy Rights

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Boston, it’s important to consult an experienced Boston DUI attorney to determine if the evidence against you was obtained by fair and legal methods. Click here to contact The Law Offices of Tracy D. Dudevoir for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your DUI case, or call 617-489-9044.

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