GPS technology can be used for everything from helping drivers to get where their going, to helping police crack down on crime. Monday the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that police have to get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects.
The court ruled in the case of a Washington, D. C., nightclub owner after a federal appeals court overturned his drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a GPS device on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month. In Texas, that law already exists where police must get a judges order before using a GPS to track the bad guys.
"Police officer's aren't allowed to do that unless they go through our own Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and follow the prescriptions there. Which is applying to the judge for an order and having a judge review it and having a judge do that," says District Attorney Mark Skurka.
The Texas law is pretty clear and very specific. Law enforcement must turn to a judge for permission to install a GPS tracking device. Stating why the agency believes this will help their case in proving a crime has or will be committed.
Law enforcement has to show the area where the GPS will track and for how long the device will be used. The law also states it cannot be used on an item of property of the suspect, it must be in a vehicle or a container that is part of the vehicle.
But what about when it comes to private use of a GPS tracking device? Say in a pending divorce or if an individual wants to keep track someone else?
"It's a crime for a person to do that on their own and it can be a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by a up to a year in jail and $4,000 fine. So, Texas already has a law in the books that a private person cannot put a GPS tracking device in a car," says Skurka.
Now, if you're a business owner who want to keep track of fleet of cars or trucks, no problem. And parents if you want to know where your kids are, then GPS tracking devices are good to go too.