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NC: Court Determines GPS Tracking Devices Unconstitutional

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the state government’s requirement that registrants wear a GPS tracking device is an unreasonable search which violates the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s decision is based upon the state government’s failure to prove that GPS tracking is “effective to serve the State’s interest in protecting the public against sex offenders.”

“This is a courageous and wise decision,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Our hope is that courts throughout the nation will choose to follow it.”

In its decision, the Court stated that unless GPS “is found to be effective to actually serve the purpose of protecting against recidivism by sex offenders, it is impossible for the State to justify the intrusion of continuously tracking an offender’s location for any length of time, much less for thirty years.” The registrant in the case was required to wear a GPS device for a total of thirty years.

Also in its decision, the Court noted that “the continuous and dynamic location data gathered by (GPS) is far more intrusive than the static information gathered as a result of sex offender registration.” The Court also noted that GPS data reflects details about a registrant’s familial, political, professional, religious and sexual associations.

Further, the Court noted that it had criticized the state government in a prior case for its lack of empirical evidence to support the premise that GPS use protects the public from sex offenders. In addition, the Court cited favorably a recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that social science, scientific research, or legislative findings were required in order to uphold another type of sex offender law.

Decision

Related Media

http://amp.sacbee.com/news/article216246910.html

http://my40.tv/news/local/new-nc-court-ruling-against-sex-offender-tracking-devices-has-mixed-reactions

 

Join the discussion

  1. Harry

    This case is special since it came out of NC

  2. Phil

    Is there any evidence to support that any part of the SOR works?

    • Timothy D. A. Lawver

      Phil, (Maestro I presume)

      ” is there any proof that SOR works? ”

      Yes and No,
      It depends on what is meant by ‘ works’.

      Does it work to inform about convictions? Yes, but in an ambiguous way not a concrete way. So it’s not really helpful toward recidivism. A database in itself cannot really predict the future.
      SORNA just made it convenient to find convictions.

      The people chose electronic devices for convenience alone. Opting for convenience itself has drawbacks, pros and cons, like everything.

      Ask yourself this. ALL AMERICANS SHOULD!!!!!!!!

      If America had NOT opted for the convenience in THE VOTE by choosing electronic devices
      ( electronic tabulators) to count votes and produce results; COULD THE RUSSIANS have had a way in to influence. No!

      While the press has allocated lots of airtime CONCERNED ABOUT Those pesky RUSKIES infiltrating our election processes, while NEVER questioning the decision to utilize the the electronic voting machine in the first place.

      Having considered this Q for quite some time myself. I am left with the general impression that the entire “Hanging Chad” fiasco in FLORIDA during BUSH V GORE was really about FIRMS looking to sell machines to states. Americans opted for the convenience AND NOW they pay a price.

      • Joe

        “Does it work to inform about convictions? Yes…”

        No, no, no.

        CURRENT address, photo, weight (ladies – how ruuuuude), family vehicle license plates, vessel license numbers and employer (in some states) as well as last week’s tattoos and surgical scars (HIIPA, anyone) has NOTHING to do with a PAST conviction.

        As a, any, conviction, is in the public domain, you may shlepp your arse down to the courthouse of conviction and request the case documents. HISTORIC case documents, that is. The rest is BS.

        Law enforcement has your ENTIRE criminal history at their fingertips the second they scan your drivers license or call you in to the station. Certainly by the time you are fingerprinted.

        Then again, IF the sex offender registry is constitutional AND it increases public safety by reducing recidivism, why is this not done for all criminal convicts? Why is my government not interested in protecting my children from crime of all colouers? I really really want to know.

      • CR

        @Timothy D. A. Lawver,

        Some studies have suggested that there may be a slight deterrent effect in the registry. Making the consequences of a sex offense conviction more visible to the public is what probably accomplishes that. Not that it justifies having a registry in the first place, as the effect is not significant, and not even proven.

        I disagree with your assertion that the Russians (or any other group) could not influence elections without electronic voting. There is no evidence that electronic voting had anything to do with the influence exerted by the Russians in the last presidential election. It was social media that gave the Russians and their conservative co-conspirators the ability to influence the election.

        • R M

          @ CR: “Some studies have suggested that there may be a slight deterrent effect in the registry. Making the consequences of a sex offense conviction more visible to the public is what probably accomplishes that.”
          From what I understand, recidivism rates were decreasing even prior to widespread registries. Also, the “public” has had ZERO influence on whether I choose to commit another crime.

        • Tim Moore

          How can it be a deterrent, when they are telling the public it is just an administrative requirement? Like a Costco membership?Until you are on the registry, you don’t know what a slow burn punishment it is. Not before. If a potential law breaker ever considers the consequenses of his acts, which if they seriously did, they would most likely not commit the deed, the consequenses would be visualized in time spent in a cell not time with your name on a piece of paper. Geez, I guess I will hold off on this rape, I don’t want to fill out any membership applications every year– ugh!
          I wish the courts would classify it as a deterrent, because that means it is punishment.

  3. David

    Wow! This is great! And the court’s reason is excellent:  “The Court’s decision is based upon the state government’s failure to prove that GPS tracking is ‘effective to serve the State’s interest in protecting the public against sex offenders.’ ” 👍
    Now, if they would just rule that the Registry is unconstitutional and does not serve the State’s interest in protecting the public against sex offenders!! 👍

  4. Joe123

    What a win! Massachusetts and North Carolina this week!

    Here’s the absolute best part of this:

    “In addition, the Court cited favorably a recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that social science, scientific research, or legislative findings were required in order to uphold another type of sex offender law.”

    • PK

      @Joel

      “Here’s the absolute best part of this:
      In addition, the Court cited favorably a recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that social science, scientific research, or legislative findings were required in order to uphold another type of sex offender law.”

      I would agree;

  5. AO

    “In addition, the Court cited favorably a recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that social science, scientific research, or legislative findings were required in order to uphold another type of sex offender law.”

    This should be carved in stone and embedded behind 10″ of bullet proof glass for SO laws and every other knee-jerk law that further curtails peoples rights and criminalizes completely crime free actions.

  6. cool RC

    I am waiting for
    “The Court’s decision is based upon the state government’s failure to prove that Megan’s Law is ‘effective to serve the State’s interest in protecting the public against sex offenders.’ ”

    Can this happen?

    What do we need to do to make this happen?

  7. Gralphr

    This is great news. My wife wanted us to move to NC but we decided against it since the police claimed I would have to wear one. Let’s see, I’ve been out over 10 years for a nearly 20 year old sentence and all of a sudden I need to wear a monitor!? No thanks! I have kids and it’s bad enough they have to put up with my current registry nonsense let alone adding something else!

  8. MatthewLL

    This case is definitely special. I loved the part where to court said the State had one chance to prove the offender was a candidate for wearing GPS. Absent evidence presented by the State at the trial court, the appeals court vacated the order to wear GPS and they will not have another chance to put an ankle bracelet on him.

    Another point from the decision I think is interesting. The Court said they do not rely on the Static 99 alone, that there needs to be other evidence to show the offender is a risk to the community. This is great

    Yes, this is indeed special since it came out of NC. I wonder if the State Supreme Court will take and f*** it up.

  9. Teresa

    The guy in Raleigh who monitors the bracelets said today that offenders have to petition the courts. Why since it is unconstitutional. Total crap

    • Gralphr

      Its because of the money they make off the people forced to use them. They know a lot of people are poor or won’t know of the ruling, so they’ll play stupid until they’re forced to take it off people. It’s funny how the government will pass a law and say follow it or pay the price, but they have problems following it if it’s not in their favor.

      • Edie

        Which states charge parolees to be on GPS? Interestingly, there is no charge in Calif.

    • CR

      Gralphr is exactly right. An industry has been built up around sex offender compliance monitoring, providing services to the state or “services” to registrants that were forced upon us by the state. Anything that cuts into “offender” industry profits could reduce contributions to legislators re-election campaigns, eliminate jobs, reduce budgets, and so on. So of course, they won’t apply the court ruling to anyone else until forced to.

  10. Edie

    Janice, what can we do and who must we gather to bring the case of unconstitutionality of GPS monitoring to the California courts? We are a powerful state, with powerful stories, high tech resources, and very persuasive people. The restrictions the damn anklet poses on parolees is an unjust extension of their incarceration. Now, it’s E-carceration. The campaign to eliminate this draconian process needs to start now!

    • Janice Bellucci

      The board of directors will consider this week a challenge to GPS requirements. Legal research will be necessary befor a final decision is made.

  11. Cassandra

    Hi Janice, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin recently ruled GPS was constitutional. Would these splits be grounds for a SCOTUS appeal.
    Sorry if my legal phraseology is off, but I hope you understand my question.
    State v Muldrow

    Also in 2016 Seventh Circuit Judge Posner ruled GPS was constitutional and only regulatory

    • TS

      @Cassandra,

      This is only an intermediate appellate court with the NC Supreme Court (NCSC) above it, as it appears written online. Therefore, it would appear the NCSC would be the next logical step in an appeal for this case, if they chose to appeal. Using the Muniz (PA) state court model, it would appear SCOTUS would be after NCSC in appeals, I believe.

      With the Fourth Circuit ruling they way they did on another SO law, it would be surprising to me if the state did appeal this case to the NCSC. However, NCSC is free to rule how they want regardless of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on another SO law.

  12. AnotherAnon

    Supreme Court Says Lifetime GPS Monitoring Of Sex Offenders May Be Unconstitutional
    from the slowly-restoring-the-Fourth dept

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150404/19380730550/supreme-court-says-lifetime-gps-monitoring-sex-offenders-may-be-unconstitutional.shtml

    There is a link to the opinion itself.

    • TS

      So then is WISC and Judge Posner in err if SCOTUS ruled this way in 2015?

  13. Able

    I have a GPS question… unfortunately I have one on. It states on my terms and conditions that GPS monitoring is discretionary by a Probation Officer. My charge was PC 288.4 (b), and nothing else, my Stactic 99 was 0, and I’ve never been in trouble prior to this event. It’s been nearly two years, I’ve had no violations. Anyways, I’ve noticed that there’s other RCs in my RC class that don’t have one on, even though their terms and conditions are the same as I mine, actually everyone in the room had the exact same terms. I’ve asked all my probation officers I’ve ever had if I can get it removed? They’ve all said No, stating that San Bernardino County requires all RCs to wear one regardless of your charges and risk levels. Why is this? I can’t remember if I read it on this site or not but I thought blanket terms and conditions were unconstitutional? Anyways, I’m moving to LA County in another year where you don’t have to where a GPS.

    • Edie

      Didn’t realize this varies from county to county. We were told by my son’s P.O. that it’s a Calif. requirement for the duration of the parole period. For my son, that is 10 more years, as that was his post prison supervision sentence imposed by another state…..a state, that oddly enough does NOT require GPS monitoring. This crazy law is all over the board. Grateful that this conversation is happening. I’ve always appreciated one of many of Janice’s wise statements….”If it’s illegal to put a GPS on a car, why is it legal to put one on a person?”

  14. TS

    More media related to this decision:

    NC court: No proof public safer when sex offenders tracked

    http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180808/nc-court-no-proof-public-safer-when-sex-offenders-tracked

    “Judge Wanda Bryant disagreed, saying it expands the state’s burden of demonstrating the risk of a sex-offender repeating his crimes.

    “By requiring our trial courts to find the efficacy of (satellite-based monitoring) in curbing sex offender recidivism in order to satisfy Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches in the context of (satellite-based monitoring), the majority would impose a standard other than is required by Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” Bryant wrote in her dissent.”

    Wanda, Wanda, Wanda – a clerk can do the research for the courts or one of the lawyers can bring it with them so show the court the inefficacy of such action.

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