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Virginia GPS Tracking Laws

Appeals Court Says Warrant Not Required

GPS trackers have long been used by police forces as a way to conduct surveillance operations on criminal activity, but many states have yet to create concrete legislation regarding the appropriate use of GPS vehicle tracking devices. Over the past two years, New York and Wisconsin have made headlines for taking different views on whether or not police should be required to gather a warrant before placing a car tracker on a potential criminal’s automobile. New York courts now mandate that police must first obtain a warrant before placing a tracking system upon a suspect’s vehicle, whereas Wisconsin courts took a different stance on the issue, stating that police in the cheese state did not first need to get a warrant before using GPS monitoring systems. Another state that recently made a statement about the appropriate use of car trackers by police was Virginia after an appeals court stated law enforcement agencies could equip a car with a GPS tracker device as long as they did so on a public street. A Virginia Appeals Court was faced with making a decision about if police used a car tracker appropriately and did not violate the rights of a man who had a long history of sexual abuse/assault. Police in Virginia equipped a GPS vehicle tracker upon the automobile of a man who a) had a history of sexual assault behavior, b) was in the area where some of the sexual assaults had occurred and c) engaged in suspicious activity. Looking to put an end to the string of sexual assaults that had been occurring in the area, police put a GPS tracking device upon the suspects’ car. The GPS data gathered led to evidence and a case against the sexual assault suspect, and he was later arrested for abduction and attempt to defile.

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