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Guidelines for Using GPS Tracking in Criminal Investigations

OnDemand Webinar (82 minutes)

Electronic surveillance, including expanded use of GPS tracking, has become a widely used law enforcement tool in criminal investigations. The rules regarding admissibility of this evidence in criminal trials are still in flux. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in United States v. Jones raises more questions than it answers regarding the applicability of settled Fourth Amendment principles to evidence obtained through use of a GPS tracking device. This OnDemand Webinar will help those individuals involved in conducting federal and state criminal investigations and those responsible for developing policies and procedures regarding electronic surveillance activities to better understand the current state of the law as it applies to electronic surveillance techniques. This program will also address changing legal and societal views regarding reasonable privacy expectations in the context of digital information to help criminal investigators assess Fourth Amendment issues before conducting a search rather than after the fact. Failing to understand and anticipate the complexities of privacy interests applicable to digital information can result in vital evidence being suppressed and convictions reversed or overturned. This program will provide practical advice to anyone involved in the electronic surveillance process regarding the pitfalls that exist and best practices to avoid them, thereby minimizing unexpected and unwanted outcomes at trial.


Judith Lynne Wheat, Griffith & Wheat, PLLC


  1. S. v. Jones: The Trespass Approach to Fourth Amendment Searches and Seizure
  2. • When Do Data Gathering Activities Constitute a Sufficient Intrusion Onto Private Property to Raise Fourth Amendment Concerns?

    • What Parameters Define This Analysis?

    - Nature of the Intrusion

    - Length of Surveillance

    - Type of Information Gathered

    - Severity of the Crime Under Investigation

    - Other Factors

    • Is This Approach Realistic Given Modern Surveillance Techniques?

    • Can It Be Applied Consistently Given Differences in State Property Laws?

    Katz Redefined: Reasonable Expectations of Privacy in Digital Data

    • Have Technology Advancements Changed the Reasonable Person's Expectation of Privacy With Respect to Digital Information?

    • Is Disclosure to Third-Parties Still a Valid Test for Fourth Amendment Purposes?

    - GPS Tracking on Cell Phones or Manufacturer Installed Devices

    - Cell Phone and URL Tracking by Third-Party Providers

    - Other Types of Data Collection and Mining

    • Should Secrecy Still Be a Component of Fourth Amendment Privacy Analysis?

    • Where Do You Draw the Line?

    Into the Future and Beyond

    • Practical Considerations in the Wake of Jones

    - When Will a Warrantless Search Be Upheld?

    - Is It Worth the Risk?

    - Is Good Faith Still a Defense?

    - Other Pitfalls to Avoid

    • Is a Legislative Fix the Answer?