GPS Tracking Laws Arizona and How They Are Used Against You
Technology is making it easier for privacy violations to happen, even for police officers. GPS devices can help us navigate in a new and improved way over printing out directions. However, GPS can also be used against you if you’re facing criminal charges, and you could need an Arizona criminal defense attorney.
In 2018, Arizona Supreme Court ruled that it was lawful for police to place a GPS tracking device on a truck that they had reason to believe was transporting drugs, even though the officers did not have a warrant. The case found this to be true because there was suspicion that the person arrested was a criminal, which made it lawful to use the GPS tracking device to keep tabs on his behavior.
More about the Arizona criminal law case
Police officers were doing a regular check of vehicles and running plates to make sure all was well in the neighborhood. When they reached a tractor-trailer, the plates came up as stolen. It also was marked suspiciously because it was registered as Swiff but the lettering on the vehicle said Swift.
Because the officers had reasonable suspicion that something was not right with the situation, they placed a GPS tracker on the vehicle and did not file for a warrant to do so. The officers believed that the truck was being used to transport narcotics illegally.
After the GPS tracker was in place, the officers tracked the truck for three days. They observed behavior that was in line with drug trafficking across multiple states, including Arizona. There were two men on board who would get out, shake hands with others and get back in the truck. Additionally, one stop including a stay at a warehouse that was suspicious.
Once the truck re-entered Arizona, police officers pulled it over for an inspection. The two men on board told the officers that they could not inspect the contents of the truck without a warrant. Despite this, the officers had drug dogs that alerted that there were drugs in the area. Once they opened the trailer, the officers found 2,000 pounds of marijuana.
The Arizona criminal defense court case
Because of the circumstances of how the drugs were found, the defendant’s defense team filed to have the findings suppressed from the case because the officers did not have a warrant to place the GPS device. The trial defense team argued that this behavior was a violation of the defendant’s 4th and 14th amendment rights.
In the court’s investigation, it found that the officers should have obtained a warrant before placing the GPS device to protect the privacy rights of the defendant. However, the good faith exception protected the officers and made their actions legal because the officers had reason to believe that there was something unlawful happening.
The evidence was permitted to be used in the case despite the questionable way that it was obtained, making it a significant ruling for criminal defense case law in Arizona.
What this means for Arizona criminal defense cases
Any time the court rules in favor of actions that do not protect the rights and privacy of individuals, it’s concerning for future criminal defense cases. Now, this case can be used to determine future cases that include similar situations.
Public defendants serve an important role in the legal system of ensuring that everyone earns their day in court. However, if you’re facing criminal charges with circumstances that include questionable breaches to your privacy, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can be your best chance at proving your innocence and avoiding time in jail.
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