Bernardo Garcia had served time in jail for methamphetamine (meth) offenses. On release from prison, a person reported to the police that Garcia had brought meth to her and used it with her. Another person told police that Garcia bragged that he could manufacture meth in front of a police station without being caught. A store’s security video system recorded Garcia buying ingredients used in making meth. From someone else, the police learned that Garcia was driving a Ford Tempo.
The police found the car parked on the street near where Garcia was staying. The police placed a GPS (global positioning system) tracking device underneath the rear bumper of the car so the device could receive and store satellite signals that indicate the device’s location. Using the device, the police learned that Garcia had been visiting a large tract of land. With permission of the owner of the land, the police conducted a search and discovered equipment and materials to manufacture meth. While the police were there, Garcia arrived in his car. The police had not obtained a search warrant authorizing them to place the GPS tracker on Garcia’s car.
The government brought criminal charges against Garcia. At Garcia’s criminal trial in U.S. district court, the evidence the police obtained using the GPS was introduced. Based on this evidence, Garcia was found guilty of crimes related to the manufacture of meth. Garcia appealed to the U. S. court of appeals, arguing that the use of the GPS tracking device by the police was an unreasonable search, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Does the police officers’ use of the GPS without first obtaining a search warrant constitute an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment? United States of America v. Garcia, 474 F. 3d 994, 2007 U. S. App. Lexis 2272 ( United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2007)