criminal law

Shackles Before Sentencing: The Global Positioning System as a Means of Pretrial Restraint


As indicated in an Orlando Sentinel Article in 2015,  reinstatement of electronic monitoring via Global Positioning System is not being considered at this time. However, we never know what the future could holds so it is good for lawyers to understand the arguments behind this issue.

AUTHOR: Blair Jackson, JD

What do famous Hollywood starlets Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton have in common with thousands of other Americans? Both have been subject to electronic monitoring via the Global Positioning System. Global Positioning Systems have become indispensable tools aiding drivers of automobiles to safely and efficiently reach their destinations. Global Positioning Systems are also being utilized with greater frequency in our nation’s criminal justice system. One notable use of a Global Positioning System is to gather information about a suspect in a criminal case, which has recently been examined in State v. Jones. Additionally, Global Positioning Systems are used routinely by our courts to monitor the travel of criminal defendants once they have been charged with a crime and, in some circumstances, as a condition of a sentence.

This article discusses the use of a Global Positioning System as both a supplement or, in some cases, substitute for standard bond conditions in criminal cases. Its technology offers obvious benefits to courts seeking to keep the criminal defendant away from a victim and to keep close tabs on a defendant’s whereabouts. Given the heightened level of intrusion that exists when an electronic device is attached to an individual, do our courts have carefully drafted guidelines that must be established before such a device may be implemented?

This article explores this question by looking at criteria (or the lack thereof) utilized by courts in Alabama, Oklahoma and Arizona to examine whether the individual’s constitutional rights are being appropriately safeguarded when Global Positioning System monitoring becomes an issue in the pretrial phase of a criminal proceeding. The article concludes that most states have little to no legislation that might guide a court when determining when a Global Positioning System should be appropriately applied, and suggests specific requirements that would at least be somewhat analogous to conditions of bond in a criminal case.

Click to read entire law review



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