Legalities in GPS Placement in Idaho

Idaho v. Danney (Court of Appeals, State of Idaho, (11/5/2010). Here we had an interesting case regarding GPS placement with the defendant Danney. The court ruled that a police officer can place a GPS on someone’s car without getting a warrant if there is probable cause to believe the suspect has committed or is going to commit a crime. This decision should be viewed as an exception because it does not mean that a warrant is not necessary in every case, but it does mean that the police have more leeway in choosing when to use a GPS.
The court made this decision after evaluating several previous cases from different states. One of these cases was Jones v. State of Maryland which also had to do with a GPS and placement without a warrant. In that case, the court decided that the use of the GPS was not a violation of the 4th Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure but instead was “reasonable.” In other words, there is a line between what is reasonable and what is considered an invasion of privacy.
The reason for this judgment in Danney’s case stems from two previous cases that define the “reasonable expectation of privacy” in different contexts. The court uses a case from 1983, Rakas v. Illinois, to explain why not every detail of someone’s life is protected by the 4th Amendment. In that case it was ruled that if you do something in public or with other people, your expectation of privacy is lessened. For example, if someone follows you to your house and out into the public without you knowing they are doing it, then you have less of an expectation of privacy than if a neighbor is watching or following everything you do in your living room.
The court uses another case from 2006, Florida v. Jardines, to explain what constitutes a search warrant. In that case, police brought a drug-sniffing dog to the suspect’s front door without getting a warrant in order to see if the dog would detect drugs. The court ruled that this was an illegal search and violated their 4th Amendment rights. Generally speaking, if you have any expectation of privacy regarding something then it is considered a search in the eyes of the law. The court also used this case to explain that “expectation of privacy” is not always directly related to whether or not you own something and can be based on how you are using it, where you are using it, etc.
The reason for this decision by the Idaho courts was that the police could reasonably believe that Danney had committed a crime, in this case robbery. The fact that the officers placed the GPS on the suspect’s car means they did not have to go into his house and search through his belongings in order to view important evidence of the crime. This is because once they determined he was somewhere where he should not be (because of the robbery) then they were able to track his whereabouts without a warrant.
Idaho Code § 18-6707, Discusses COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY allows for a private investigator to place a GPS on a vehicle without a warrant if it is in order to perform a legitimate investigation.
In conclusion, I believe that it is important to understand these cases to place a GPS because this cases have set precedent for how we can view and use them. It appears the law will continue to change with technology as more people are placed under surveillance. However, as a general guideline, if you have an expectation of privacy regarding something then it is considered a search and therefore violates your 4th Amendment rights. In most cases in which police use GPS to track someone’s location, they should at least get a warrant beforehand because that person has the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, it is something that police should pay attention to and use with caution so as not to violate someone’s rights.

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