It’s Throwback Thursday! Let’s go back to 2004 to United States v. Jones and examine the underlying principles of the case and what it means for us today.
Is justice ensuring that all criminals are caught at the expense of the innocent and their rights? Is justice ensuring that all people are protected under the law equally and irrevocably? Is anyone willing to give up their personal liberties to this effect? The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provides the American people with protection under the law, true justice, and personal liberties. To violate this amendment is to undermine justice in its purest form – protection of the people.
In 2004, Antoine Jones was arrested for drug trafficking because of evidence obtained by a GPS tracking device placed under Jones’s car. Placing an electronic device on someone’s personal property constitutes a search under the fourth amendment. It is illegal to do without obtaining a warrant, a fact that is well supported by other fourth amendment cases involving technology and its boundaries. If this kind of intrusion on a person’s privacy is allowed in the future than safety and privacy will soon be a thing of the past. The police’s use of a GPS device was a search because they intruded on his personal effects and touched them without his consent or knowledge and without a warrant. Read these cases below and decide the legality for yourself.
There is precedent for the illegality of placing electronic device near a person to monitor their actions. In Katz vs. United States the court decided in favor of Katz. The police were not allowed to place a recording device on the phone booth where Katz was having a private conversation without first obtaining a warrant on grounds of probable cause. Electronic devices give the police an advantage that they would not have if they were investigating the case fairly and according to the law. If they overheard Katz speaking then they could have obtained a warrant but listening to his conversation willfully and through extraneous means was a violation of Katz’s rights. Katz had an expectation of privacy that the police could not infringe on. Searching anything without a warrant is illegal.
In State of Rhode Island vs. Michael Patino the Sgt. in charge of the case searched the contents of Patino’s cell phone and all evidence was thrown out because of it. The judge in the case stated that obtaining the cell phone without a warrant, as it was not covered in the warrant to search the house, was illegal. Police did not have a proper warrant to search or touch Mr. Jones car. They should have shadowed him to obtain the information they wanted. This ensures that only those who are under true suspicion are monitored by the police as there are not enough resources to monitored most American citizens.
Justice is ensuring that all people are protected under the law equally and irrevocably. It is a protection of people’s personal rights and liberties. It is meant to protect the innocent. Antoine Jones’s rights were violated and his case could set precedence for future generations. If these sorts of searches are allowed then everyone in the United States can be monitored without their knowledge or consent, without probable cause. Placing an electronic device on someone’s car, listening in on their conversations is a violation of their rights and constitutes as a search of their property. It’s a good thing the Supreme Court of the United States thinks so too! They ruled that placing a GPS device on Jones’s car constituted a search in a 9-0 decision.
"KATZ v. UNITED STATES." Katz v. United States. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Web. 12 June 2014.
"UNITED STATES v. JONES." United States v. Jones. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Web. 12 June 2014.
Weiss, Marie-Andree. "Warrantless Text Message Search Threatens to Scuttle Murder Case." Home. Digital Media Law Project, Web. 12 June 2014.
MLA formatting by BibMe.org.