Recently, in United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that the attaching of a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car without his knowledge and monitoring of the vehicle’s movements violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. See generally 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012). In so doing, the Court resurrected an idea relating to Fourth Amendment law that had been dormant for almost 50 years – the idea of common-law trespass as a test for violations of the amendment.
Specifically, police officers obtained a warrant to put the tracking device on a car registered to Jones’ wife. Jones, 132 S.Ct. at 948. Officers then placed the GPS tracker on the undercarriage of the car while it was parked in a public parking lot. Id. The officers then monitored the car’s movements for 28 days. Id. Eventually, the Government indicted Jones on charges of (among other things) conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Id. Jones moved to suppress the evidence from the GPS device.