GPS Tracking Laws In Massachusetts
Court Rules on GPS Trackers
Following in the footsteps of Wisconsin and New York, Massachusetts’s highest reigning court made a ruling on the legality of law enforcement agencies utilizing GPS trackers to monitor potential criminal activity. The high court’s final and unanimous ruling stated that as long as law enforcement and police agencies obtain a warrant and follow proper protocol then they have the authority to enter a suspect’s vehicle and install or place a GPS tracking system. The court viewed GPS trackers as a vital investigative tool and set the time frame on GPS monitoring to only 15 days, even though standard warrants only have a 7-day lifespan.
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What You Need To Know About Monitoring Devices In Massachusetts
Are you thinking of using a GPS device and are wondering if using GPS tracking devices falls under the criminal harassment statute? First of all, it is a good thing that you are concerned about the Massachusetts law as it pertains to electronic monitoring before using any form of real time tracking system. Here are some quick facts that Massachusetts’ Court has ruled in regards to placing a tracker on a persons’ vehicle.
- Legally, you can place tracking devices on vehicles you own
- If you do not own the vehicle, it is a legal “gray area” to put a tracker underneath the vehicle (as long as the vehicle is not parked on private property)
- It is illegal to enter the vehicle of a private citizen and hide a GPS tracker in it if you do not own that vehicle.
Massachusetts Court Rules On GPS Tracking
How A Defendants’ Conduct Was Monitored
Although many states are slowly passing legislation and interpreting laws on the conditions in which vehicle tracking systems can be used by law enforcement and governing bodies, the Massachusetts high court’s ruling came after an appeal by a drug trafficker. Everett Connolly, a Cap Cod resident, was suspected by local authorities to be trafficking drugs throughout the Massachusetts region, and his criminal defense was the tracker violated his privacy rights. Police then went through the proper and lawful channels and entered Connolly’s minivan and installed a GPS tracking system to monitor his stops and routes driven to access his drug trafficking distribution network. When the vehicle tracking system data validated the law enforcement suspicions, he was promptly pulled over and arrested. Connolly had over 120 grams of cocaine on him at the time of his arrest.
GPS data evidence gathered from the tracker resulted in Connolly’s conviction in lower courts, sending him to jail for violating the Massachusetts drug laws. His sentence was for 12-15 years.
GPS Tracking Laws for the Other States
Going forward it is very likely every state will pass some variation of a ruling on GPS tracking systems being used by law enforcement, employers, and citizens. GPS auto tracking technology is growing at such a rapid rate that all state courts will be forced to move on enacting legislation to remove the gray area from the books.
Although Connolly made every attempt to get his sentence suspended due to a hole in the system on unclear legislation on GPS laws, there is no denying that he was trafficking cocaine and had large quantities of the drug in his possession at the time of the arrest.
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.
Ryan is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.