Monitoring of GPS Device Without a Warrant Was Not a Violation of the Fourth Amendment

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has affirmed the decision of a district court judge regarding the conviction of Henry R. Brown. Brown was convicted after a jury trial of conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and was sentenced to life imprisonment because of his prior convictions.

On appeal, Brown argued that the district court should have prevented the prosecutor from introducing information obtained from a GPS system that law enforcement officers attached to a car in 2006.  It turned out that the car the GPS unit was attached to was owned by one of Brown’s confederates, Kevin Arms.  Arms alerted police that Troy Lewis was driving the vehicle to Milwaukee to deliver 10 kilograms of cocaine for Arms, Brown and their co-conspirators.  The police used the GPS device to locate the Jeep and perform a stop in Racine, Wis., where the drugs were discovered.

At Brown’s trial, Lewis and Arms testified against him.  Brown argued that the installation of the GPS should be considered reasonable only if the police first obtained a warrant with probable cause.  The panel rejected that argument.

In another case, U.S. v. Jones, the court did not hold that the continuous monitoring of a GPS device that was installed after consent of a vehicle owner constituted a search.  The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter clear violations of the Fourth Amendment. 

Finally, the appeals panel stated that prior to the Jones decision, which is binding precedent in the 7th Circuit, the court held that the attachment and monitoring of a GPS device without a warrant was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. 

Therefore, it was concluded that the exclusion of evidence rule could not apply to the information derived from the GPS device that led to Brown’s arrest.  Accordingly, the district court decision regarding this issue was affirmed and Brown’s conviction stood.

U.S. v. Henry R. Brown, No-11-1565 (7th Cir., March 4, 2014).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling litigation matters for individuals and families for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, Berwyn, Joliet, Waukegan, Alsip, Dolton, Blue Island, Calumet City, Evergreen Park, Robbins, Crestwood, Midlothian, Oak Forest, Palos Hills and Bridgeview, Ill.

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