This case ultimately comes down to a disagreement about the fourth amendment to the US Constitution. According to wikipedia, the fourth amendment “guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause” (Wikipedia, [1]).  A Phoenix detective placed a GPS device onto a Mr. Cuevas-Perez’s jeep, who he suspected was selling drugs.  The detective had no search warrant when he placed the small subtle device on the car, which is the crux of the case.  I find this to be incredibly interesting.  Mr. Cuevas-Perez admits to driving from Arizona to Illonois with “9 packages” of heroin.  But Mr. Cuevas-Perez thinks that the police did not have the right to search his vehicle when they found the drugs, and therefore anything they found while they were searching it cannot be used against him in a court of law.


The persecutory allegations are that the use of a GPS tracking device is not considered a “search” or “seizure”.  The reason why this is tricky is because GPS devices didn’t exist when these laws were created.  The defense the police give for this claim is that it’s more akin to a substitute to following the subject from another vehicle, something that is very legal and not in violation of the US Constitution.


An interesting case that pertains to this dispute was US versus Maynard, in which the court decided that using a GPS device for a substantial length of time (in this particular case it had been used for 28 days straight) could be considered a search as it would make one’s daily routine and habits transparent.  I fail to see how a prolonged period of time makes any difference.  At least from the movies I’ve seen in modern days, cops do extended stakeouts regularly in which they survey subjects for days on end waiting for them to make a move.  It is also very clear that in the case of Mr. Cuevas-Perez, they weren’t observing any trends, so it’s hard to use this case as an argument in Mr. Cuevas-Perez’s defense.


Mr. Cuevas-Perez also notes that his rights were more violated than previous GPS related fourth amendment cases since the GPS device used to track his location was capable of transmitting the results in real-time back to the operator, rather than having to be retrieved as did those in past cases.