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Warrantless GPS Tracking Used To Be Legal? Not in Texas

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court held that police may not use GPS to track a criminal suspect without first getting a warrant to do so. A night club owner was sentenced to life in prison on drug charges after GPS tracking allowed police to link him to a house used for stashing drugs and money. The GPS device was placed on the night club owner’s Jeep without his knowledge and without a warrant.

The Supreme Court unanimously held that attaching a GPS device to a person’s vehicle is considered a search for the purposes of the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, and requires a warrant. When evidence is collected illegally, as was the information linking the night club owner to the drug house, your Texas criminal law lawyer may be able to use that information to fight any related charges against you.

How Does This Ruling Affect Texans?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires law enforcement to seek a judge’s approval before using a GPS device to track a criminal suspect. The person or agency applying for permission to use GPS tracking must tell the judge why tracking is necessary and how it will assist in proving that a crime has been or may be committed in the future.

The police must also include the area in which GPS tracking will be used and for how long a person will be tracked. GPS tracking, if approved by a judge, may be placed only on a car, or in a container on a car, not on some other piece of property belonging to the person to be tracked.

In short, Texas law already protected individuals from warrantless GPS tracking prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision requiring a law enforcement to first obtain a warrant before doing so.

Source:, “GPS Tracking In Texas,” 23 January 2012