• Aug 31st 2010 at 12:00AM
  • 498

Is your vehicle private property? The answer seems obvious: of course it is. But depending on where you parked it, you might give up some rights in actually keeping it "private." Police can place a tracking device on your car without a warrant, according to recent judgment in California.

Earlier this year, an Oregonian named Juan Pineda-Moreno was convicted of growing marijuana after police tracked his car to a suspected growing site. Pineda-Moreno appealed, citing the fact that on two occasions DEA agents placed tracking devices on his car while it was in his driveway -- which he considered private, not public, property -- and therefore breached his Fourth Amendment rights.

In case you don't have your Bill of Rights handy, here's the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pineda-Moreno didn't have any signage or barriers around his property to clearly indicate that it was private property, and since "an individual going up to the house to deliver the newspaper or to visit someone would have to go through the driveway to get to the house," why couldn't the DEA? Further, the court ruled that the underside of his car isn't private because "[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Of course there are all kinds of legal chicanery involved, so read the decision (it's short) if you really want to know how it went down (for instance, DEA agents attached GPS devices on seven occasion, five of those in public places, not Pineda-Moreno's driveway) and then decide for yourself whether Orwell has lifted a finger from the grave or not.

How It All Went Down

Pineda-Moreno tipped law enforcement off in 2007 when he was seen buying a large amount of fertilizer from Home Depot. The fertilizer, one typically used to grow marijuana, was purchased in conjunction with groceries, irrigation supplies and deer repellant and placed in the back of his 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Drug Enforcement Agency decided to study Pineda-Moreno more closely, placing GPS tracking devices on his vehicle. The devices, about the size of a bar of soap, were placed on the underside of his vehicle on seven different occasions -- four times while parked on the street outside of his residence, once in a public parking lot and twice while parked in his driveway. Reports indicate that police placed the devices on his vehicle between 4:00 and 5:00 AM in the mornings.

While tracking his vehicle, officials recognized Pineda-Moreno's car was leaving a commonly known marijuana growing location. They located his Jeep, pulled him over and noted the smell of marijuana coming from his car. All three people in the car were placed under arrest and when officials searched Pineda-Moreno's trailer, they found two large garbage bags full of weed.

What's undisputed is that Pineda-Moreno was in possession of marijuana. But should the manner in which police tracked him get called into question? While Pineda-Moreno lost this recent appeal, expect him to take it to a higher court (the U.S. Supreme Court) in the coming year.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Months Ago
      LOL!!!! KGB changed name to democrat party after soviet union collapsed!!!!LOL!!! and your just noticing now????
      • 7 Months Ago
      Unless you have the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (original title), the car/truck/van/suv is not, in fact, yours. Look at your paperwork: you'll see that you have a 'Certificate of Title', meaning that a title exists, but you don't have it. Your car actually is the property of some third party whom you don't know and will never see, like the land your house sits on, and your kid (Certificate of Live Birth is NOT a birth certificate - - do your own research), so your kid is a chattel, and property of the State. Since Moreno does not, in fact, own either the real property nor the Jeep, he won't get much joy from the Supremes, either. The Ninth Circuit just set out a bunch of window dressing verbiage to disguise the fact that Moreno has no rights either in his house or in his car. You can thank Harry Truman and the US Senate of the time for chaining us to the UN, including Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 (you can download both from the un website, and read 'em for yourselves). Have a nice day.
      • 7 Months Ago
      I understand that law enforcement needs to do their job, but you have to draw a line somewhere. Some people say that you have no reason to complain about privacy infringement unless you are doing something illegal. I don't know about you, but I believe you have a right to your privacy unless there is enough suspicion to get a judge to agree to a search warrant. That's why we have a system of checks and balances. How about government officials? Would they like the public to see a daily diary printed in the newspapers about their comings and goings? Would you like your ex-husband or ex-wife to attach this to your car with impunity? I'm tired of our right to privacy being whittled away.
      • 7 Months Ago
      there needs to be people that track the cops with gps. see how many laws they break.i didnt know i could put a tracking devise on any car i want hmmmmmm maybe i will track all the cops in my town then i will always know where they are
      • 7 Months Ago
      George Orwell, 1984.......Big Brother is watching you !!! Man, what a book. Of course, those of us ******** it in junior high school have developed an fear of the government robbing us of our God given liberties and placing a mule collar on us, whipping us to pull the grindstone in a circle around the sorghum mill. Yes, massah. Oh, massah, you want a thousand dollars for a speeding ticket ? But, massah, don't you know I only make seven fitty and hour, and, massah, what happen'********** like you don't care 'bout me no 'mo. I remember in the fifties, sixties and seventies, when you treated me with respect and dignity. Now it seems all you wants to do is git your foot on my neck. It's true, and we will all be sorry that we let them get away with it. Someday, you will regret ******** like the slow boil of a bullfrog in a pot. Turning up the thermostat one degree at a time over the course of a period of time, the frog is cooked, and he never knew what hit him until it's too late. Well, no, true, you won't regret it if you're one of the bureaucrats who will do anything to advance themselves and justify their existence. God help us.
      • 7 Months Ago
      why would anyone be suprised by the stupidity of the 9th circuit court?
      • 7 Months Ago
      run it up to the Supreme Court of the Unites State they will knock it down.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Here's a thought......Don't grow pot. Don't violate the law. If, however, you engage in a criminal enterprise then avoidance countermeasures should be part of your overhead costs.....
      • 7 Months Ago
      So does that mean if I ride a horse instead of drive a car the police can stick a GPS device up the horses butt to track me with.....after all I can't put a sign on the horse. Maybe he'd just like to screw the horse......so I need a sign to keep the cops a away from my horse.......NIce
      • 7 Months Ago
      Brendaf--I agree that is ********. My Wife got hit in a strip mall parking lot and the cops told her the same thing--Parking lot is private property, can't file a police report. But the sons of bitches sit in the same parking lot with their frigging radar guns watching traffic!!!!! WTF kind of **** is that?
      • 7 Months Ago
      Every time there is election vote Not to retain the judges so that they do not get corrupe as this one is. Any time the constitution is not up held as in this case all parties some be made to pay, this would include the local police chief. People should recall any person in a elected position when they violate the peoples rights as this case.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Oh, since the undercarriage of my car (or anyone else's) isn't private property, I guess this means someone can cut another person's brake lines or do any other kind of damage they want, right? That's BS! If I see someone messing with my car sitting in my driveway, I feel like I have the right to shoot them also. That's tampering with someones personal belongings, no matter what the law calls it. I hate pot, but this is so wrong. The law makes the laws to accommodate whatever they want to do.Wake up America!
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