Seventh Circuit holds that violating geographic limitations of GPS warrant not cognizable under Fourth Amendment.

This case stems from a series of bank robberies across the country, “à la Bonnie and Clyde.” Armed with a warrant for real-time, Global-Positioning-System (GPS) vehicle monitoring, the Defendants’ car was tracked.

The main complaint here for the purposes of our discussions is that the Government violated the Fourth Amendment by tracking him out of State when the warrant limited tracking to Indiana.

The Seventh Circuit found that the in-State limitation in the warrant issued for GPS tracking of a specific vehicle appeared to be an anomaly. After surveying a number of cases discussing issues regarding the scope of a warrant, the Seventh Circuit held that “(u)pon a good-faith affidavit, the warrant to track (defendant’s) car issued from (1) an independent magistrate, (2) based on probable cause, (3) with a particular description of the place or thing (the Volvo) to be searched. (Defendant) therefore received all he was entitled to under the Fourth Amendment. E.g., Dalia, 441 U.S. at 255; Archer v. Chisholm, 870 F.3d 603, 614 (7th Cir. 2017).”

The Seventh Circuit specifically said that the in-state limitation does not present a “constitutional requirement—that is, a probable-cause determination or a description of the particular search authorized. Cf. Horton, 496 U.S. at 140.”

The case is United States v. Brewer, 915 F.3d 408, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3451, 108 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 779 (7th Cir.) February 4, 2019.

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