Attachment of GPS Device Without Warrant Violates 4th Amendment

In State v. Sullivan, 2013-Ohio-5276, the Fifth District Court of Appeals tackles whether it is constitutional for law enforcement to attach a GPS monitoring device to a suspects car without a search warrant.  In short, law enforcement believed the suspect, Montie Sullivan, was involved in a series of home invasions. 

Due to limited government resources, law enforcement was without the manpower to constantly monitor the suspect’s movement through physical surveillance.  Instead, law enforcement, without a warrant, attached a GPS monitoring device to the suspect’s vehicle to track his whereabouts.  His vehicle was subsequently monitored to be in the vicinity of another home invasion.  Following the invasion, law enforcement obtained a search warrant to search the suspect’s home where they found a number of items that were taken during the home invasion.

On appeal, the appellate court ruled that the evidence related to the suspect’s whereabouts through the GPS monitoring device on his vehicle should be excluded from consideration.

As an interesting twist, in addition to installing a GPS monitoring device on the suspects car, law enforcement did properly obtain a search warrant to track the suspect’s whereabouts through tracking the suspect’s mobile telephone.  With regard to the evidence obtained through tracking the suspect’s mobile telephone, the appellate court ruled this evidence was admissible because law enforcement had obtained the proper warrant.

Leave a Reply