United States v. Katzin, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19012 (3rd Circuit October 1, 2014)

Third Circuit sends crystal clear advice to law enforcement when it comes to tracking through GPS: Get a warrant!

FBI agents investigating multiple pharmacy burglaries installed a GPS tracker on the van of the Katzin brothers. The warrantless surveillance led to evidence of the involvement of brothers Harry, Michael and Mark Katzin in the burglaries. Slightly more than a year after the GPS installation and surveillance, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Jones, which held that the installation of a GPS device by government agents upon the exterior of a vehicle and subsequent use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements is a Fourth Amendment “search.” While the trial court suppressed the evidence, the Circuit Court ruled the evidence admissible under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The court cautioned law enforcement that, moving forward, however, after Jones, their best bet is to obtain a warrant for GPS surveillance.

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2015