In 2020, the Appeals Court held that GPS monitoring as a probation condition constitutes a search under Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See Commonwealth v. Feliz.
Accordingly, any use of GPS monitoring as a condition of probation requires the government to prove that its interest in imposing the monitor outweighs the privacy intrusion of the device.
This month the Appeals Court published yet another decision, Commonwealth v. Roderick, concerning GPS probation monitoring.
This case requires us to determine whether GPS monitoring as a condition of probation is constitutional as applied to the defendant, a first-time offender convicted of rape. The Commonwealth asserts that GPS monitoring will further its interests in enforcing the court-ordered exclusion zone surrounding the victim’s home, deterring the defendant from engaging in criminal activity, and assisting authorities in investigating any future criminal activity by the defendant.
We conclude that the Commonwealth has not established how the imposition of GPS monitoring in this case would further its interest in enforcing the exclusion zone. Although the Commonwealth has demonstrated that GPS monitoring might aid in deterring and investigating possible future criminal activity by the defendant, in the circumstances here, those interests alone do not justify the depth of the intrusion into the defendant’s privacy that GPS monitoring entails. Accordingly, the imposition of GPS monitoring on the defendant as a condition of probation would constitute an unreasonable search in violation of art. 14.