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GPS Tracking Laws In Massachusetts

GPS Tracking Laws In Massachusetts – 2023

Are you concerned your employees are misusing company vehicles while working out in the field? Maybe you suspect your teenager is driving dangerously too fast? Or maybe you believe your spouse is having an affair with a partner or someone from their past? In any of those situations, it is perfectly normal for someone to consider using a GPS vehicle tracker. Basically, a hidden tracking device to secretly monitor everywhere that vehicle is going 24/7. In this article, we will go over all GPS tracking laws in Massachusetts. Let’s dive in!

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What You Need To Know About GPS Trackers In Massachusetts 

Considering using a GPS device and wondering if it falls under the criminal harassment statute in Massachusetts? It’s great that you’re mindful of the laws governing electronic monitoring before employing a real-time tracking system. Here are some quick facts based on rulings from the Massachusetts Court regarding placing a tracker on someone’s vehicle:

  • You can legally place tracking devices on vehicles you own.
  • If you don’t own the vehicle, placing a tracker underneath it is a legal “gray area,” provided the vehicle isn’t parked on private property.
  • However, entering a private citizen’s vehicle and hiding a GPS tracker inside without owning the vehicle is illegal.

GPS Tracking in Massachusetts: Notable Cases and Consequences

  • Commonwealth v. Connolly (2011): In this appellate division case, the police used a GPS device to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the warrantless tracking violated the defendant’s privacy rights, leading to the suppression of the GPS evidence.
  • Commonwealth v. Augustine (2014): The police tracked a murder suspect’s cell phone location without obtaining a warrant. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that doing so violated the suspect’s privacy rights, and as a result, the cell phone location data was inadmissible in court.
  • A notable case on Beacon Hill involved a towing company that used GPS tracking devices to monitor their employees’ movements. The company implemented a clear policy, informed employees, and obtained consent, avoiding any legal consequences.
  • In a high-profile drug crimes case, law enforcement used GPS tracking to monitor a suspect’s personal vehicle with a warrant. The gathered evidence led to a conviction, demonstrating the appropriate and legal use of GPS tracking.

GPS Monitoring for Sex Offenders in Massachusetts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understand the requirement: In Massachusetts, sex offenders, especially those deemed high risk, may be required to wear GPS monitoring devices as part of their probation or parole conditions. This requirement is imposed by the court and aims to protect public safety.

Sentencing and determination: The court, following a sex offense conviction, may order GPS monitoring as part of the sentence. The decision is based on factors such as the nature of the crime, risk level, and the offender’s history.

GPS bracelet setup: Once ordered, the offender is fitted with a GPS monitoring device, typically an ankle bracelet. This device uses the global positioning system to track the offender’s movements.

Exclusion zones: The court may establish exclusion zones, which are specific areas the offender is prohibited from entering. These zones could include schools, playgrounds, or the victim’s residence.

Monitoring process: Law enforcement agencies or a designated monitoring company will monitor the offender’s movements using the GPS data. This ensures compliance with the conditions and helps maintain public safety.

Regular check-ins: Offenders under GPS monitoring may be required to attend regular check-ins with their probationofficer or other designated authority. These meetings help assess compliance and address any concerns.

Violations and consequences: If an offender violates the terms of their GPS monitoring, such as entering an exclusion zone or tampering with the device, they may face legal consequences. This could include probation violation charges, additional criminal charges, or even imprisonment.

Duration of monitoring: The length of time an offender must wear a GPS monitoring device varies depending on the court’s decision, the severity of the crime, and the offender’s risk level. The court will determine the appropriate duration.

Remember that GPS monitoring for sex offenders is designed to promote public safety and ensure compliance with court orders. Complying with the terms and maintaining open communication with your legal representative can help mitigate potential consequences.

Frequently asked Questions

Are GPS tracking devices legal in Massachusetts?

Yes, GPS tracker devices are legal to purchase in Massachusetts. However, their use is subject to certain restrictions and regulations under Massachusetts General Laws, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decisions, and federal laws such as the Fourth Amendment. It is crucial to respect privacy rights and obtain consent when necessary to avoid legal issues. Basically, how you use a GPS tracker can determine if the application is legal or illegal. 

Can employers in Massachusetts use GPS trackers to monitor their employees?

Yes, employers in Massachusetts can use GPS tracking devices to monitor their employees, but only under specific conditions. Employers must have a legitimate business purpose, inform employees about the monitoring, and obtain their consent. Implementing a clear written policy outlining the use of GPS trackers can help maintain compliance with the law.

Is it legal to use a GPS tracker to catch a cheating spouse in Massachusetts?

No, using a GPS tracker to catch a cheating spouse without their consent is generally illegal in Massachusetts. Doing so may violate the Massachusetts Electronic Privacy Act (MEPA) and lead to legal consequences. Instead, consider consulting a family law attorney or a private investigator to explore alternative options for addressing your concerns.

Can law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts use GPS tracking devices during investigations?

Yes, law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts can use GPS tracking devices during investigations, but they must first obtain a warrant. This requirement is in place to protect individuals’ privacy rights and is enforced under the Massachusetts Electronic Privacy Act (MEPA) and the Fourth Amendment.

DISCLAIMER: Please note information regarding Massachusetts GPS laws found in this article should not be used as legal advice. If you are involved in a family law or divorce case and are considering using GPS tracking devices then please contact an attorney to get the latest legal information. 


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