Is GPS Tracking Legal in Illinois?
The answer to this question depends on who is doing the tracking and under what circumstances. What you should be most concerned about is whether police are allowed to use GPS tracking devices to monitor your movements. There are two scenarios where this is likely to happen, the first is where police are tracking you as part of an investigation and the other would be from violating an Order of Protection.
This issue was recently taken all the way to the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Jones. In Jones, local police and FBI were investigating a drug trafficking operation in D.C. that ultimately led to a life sentence of Defendant Jones. Part of the investigation involved installing a GPS tracking device on Jones’s vehicle, which police monitored 24/7 for a month. This helped secure his conviction at trial, but on appeal the court held that it violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, using the reasoning that the government invaded Jones personal property and conducted an extensive search that went beyond the bounds of the Forth Amendment. Ultimately, Jones’s conviction was reversed because he was originally convicted using this illegal evidence.
The effect of this case is the secured protection of citizens from abusive and excessive law enforcement tactics. Although police need to be able to do its job, it cannot come at the expense of our rights. The law is ever changing, however, and may be subject to congressional mandates. Politics and terrorism may cause legislators to change the law. A congressional hearing was held on the matter just yesterday. This means, your first call should always be to a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney will help you or someone you know who has been the target of a police investigation.
Protective Order Violations
In a somewhat different situation, GPS monitors may be used based on certain criminal offenses. The Illinois Legislature passed a law in 2008 coined the Cindy Bishcof Law. This law was enacted after Cindy Bishcof was shot and killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend who was stalking her.
Under 725 ILCS 5/110-5(f), if an Order of Protection is violated the offender may be ordered to wear an electronic tracking device as a condition of release. Based on several factors, like a history of domestic violence, access to weapons, etc. a court can order a risk assessment of the offender to determine whether GPS tracking is necessary.
This is quite a departure from the case above, but differs in that GPS monitoring is not being used to gather information to mount a case against you. The monitoring here is justified by a criminal violation that has already occurred and an assessed risk to public safety. This is a troubling law for some because the consequences come without a trial on the matter, which is why it is in your best interest to contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney if you are accused of violating an Order of Protection.