amandasbill1Kentucky lawmakers are facing a difficult decision in the case of whether or not to allow GPS trackers to monitor those convicted of domestic violence to keep them away from their victims. At least a dozen states are currently using the technology to make sure that violent offenders are no where near their victims, yet Kentucky has thus far held out.

Diana Ross, mother of Amanda Ross, a victim of domestic violence who lost her life around four months ago to the hand of her ex-boyfriend, Steve Nunn. Ross states that the law “would have saved my daughter’s life if it would have been in place.”

“She would not have stepped out her door that morning if she had had a GPS tracking device on her perpetrator,” Diana Ross said today on “Good Morning America.”

Even under an order of protection by a Kentucky judge, Amanda Ross was not safe from her attacker.

Amanda’s family is pushing for “Amanda’s bill,” a law that would require those served with orders of protection to wear a GPS tracking device so police and potential or past victims could keep tabs on their whereabouts to make sure they themselves stay out of harm’s way.

Currently, there are only 12 states utilizing this technology to keep tabs on domestic violence offenders.

MORE INFO TO COME AFTER LEGISLATURE VOTES

(Via ABC News)

Read More →

gavelSince the advent of GPS tracking, many debates over its legality have come into play. Is GPS tracking a violation of the Fourth Amendment, that protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures? Does GPS tracking exceed a citizen’s reasonable expectation of privacy? As more court cases rely on GPS tracking evidence as part of the investigation, these questions of legality become more and more relevant. Courts continually set precedents that determine GPS tracking legality to build a comprehensive ruling on the subject. In short, is GPS legal? Lawmakers say, yes, as long as certain protocol is followed.

Note: GPS tracking is subject to State law. Please consult your local State laws before using a GPS tracker.

When is OK to track a vehicle using a covert GPS tracker?

  • As long as the car you’re tracking is visible to the public
  • As long as you could obtain the same location information by physically trailing the car
  • As long as you put the GPS in the car while outside of the curtilage of a person’s property

When is it NOT OK to track a vehicle using a covert GPS tracker?

  • When you have to physically hardwire the GPS into the vehicle
  • When you have to break into the car, or open the car to install the tracker
  • Where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. i.e., inside of a garage or home

The Case Study: Using GPS Tracking Information as Evidence
Let’s start off this explanation of GPS’ legality with a case study. Michael A. Sveum of Wisconsin was convicted of stalking Jamie Johnson in 1996 and was promptly sent to jail. He stalked Ms. Johnson the entire time he was in jail with the help of his sister, and he continued to stalk her when he was released from jail. When Ms. Johnson reported this to the police, police went to his home, walked up his driveway, and placed a GPS tracker on the outside of his car. After following him for some time, the police retrieved the GPS tracker, and found out that Sveum was indeed stalking Ms. Johnson. Armed with the tracking information, police were able to obtain a search warrant and they eventually gathered enough evidence to re-convict Sveum. Sveum immediately appealed the ruling, stating that the police didn’t have the right to place a GPS tracking on his car to begin with because it directly violated the Fourt Amendment.

What the Court of Appeals concluded was that with this case, there was no direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The police were completely within their own jurisdiction when they trailed the GPS tracker on the car because the car was visible to the general public. This decision was based on two previous cases: U.S. v. Knotts and U.S. v. Karo. What Knotts concluded was that GPS tracking does not violate the Fourth Amendment if the GPS is put on a car in public view. What Karo concluded was that it is legal to track a car and obtain information that could be obtained by manually trailing the car. It makes no difference whether it’s a GPS device tracking the car in these types of places or the police themselves.

Remember, it’s very important to check local and State laws before using a covert GPS tracker to gather location information since these laws vary by state.

Read More →