Policeman pulling over a car


    by: Jonathon Ramsey | Autoblog

    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."

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    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 - 20 of 593 Comments
    rac2rio Oct 27, 2010 1:42 AM
    I'm confused. Can you separate the outside from the inside of one's vehicle? The reason for ruling in favor of placement of the tracking devise is that the outside of the vehicle is not private. Can one devide the inside from the outside of the vehicle? Does that, then give anyone the right to do whatever they want to your vehicle wherever it is because it is being done to the outside of the vehicle and that part of the vehicle is not private? Is the next step going to be that if something is done to the outside of your vehicle it is your fault because you bought a car that has an outside and outsides of vehicles are not private? PLEASE, HELP ME UNDERSTAND......
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    job1866 Oct 15, 2010 10:06 PM
    And the cops wonder why they are looked at as scum and get shot and killed
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    rdcabe Sep 10, 2010 4:22 PM
    Funny! is this RUSSIA!
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    overtime163 Sep 09, 2010 7:43 PM
    If your not breaking the law you have nothing to worry about
    Report This
    bobthewoodguy Sep 09, 2010 7:40 PM
    I can't believe that with all the budget cuts and financial problems going on in this country that we are still paying people to go after people who wre in posession of what is practically legal anyway. Our borders are wide open and we are flooded with illegal unwanted alians ans law enforcement is wasting our money and thier time on this. Most states have either legalizd or in the process of legalizing pot anyway, and now to be told that your car is not your private property? Wake up America. Big brother is everywhere. A government of the people by the people and for the people, yea right!
    Report This
    manolian Sep 09, 2010 5:54 PM
    "We live under an illusion of civility ,and order ,masking the underlying truth of the primitive savagery of "rule of law" ,which is ultimately enforced by the power of the gun."-
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    hirstytwo Sep 07, 2010 2:59 AM
    WOW! In this age of X -Crystal Meth - Roids - Aerosols and the like.... I can not believe the hype over WEED! Yes its illegal...by jerk standards (I'm sure it was here way before humans), Yet I still have not heard of one marjuana overdose
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    hirstytwo Sep 07, 2010 2:50 AM
    To grfrankfuter and pamiss45 in particular Please acquaint yourself to the American Travesty known as "Forfeiture Law!" Your personal property is always at risk under this law regardless if you have committed a crime or not. Please try also to familiarize yourself with the work of Mr. S Bullock from the IOJ who fights feverishly against this injustice.
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    pg12454 Sep 05, 2010 9:16 PM
    the law or goverment can do a lot of things to you that most people dont know or dont want to know about !
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    pamiss45 Sep 03, 2010 1:18 PM
    I have said for a long time (ever since the Reagan/Bush fiasco) that this country is going Communist. My property is my property and only I pay the property taxes. I now will post "No Trespassing" signs because of what was done to this Oregonian. On the sign I will allow a mailman access only. There were other ways to catch a criminal - this is violation of a so-called Demoracy's rights!!! I believe in catching criminals but it must be done legally, otherwise why have confessed murderers been let go because of Miranda Rights.
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    sflynn5362 Sep 03, 2010 1:43 AM
    They can do what they want ,when they want... Always a loop hole or twisted around the law...They almost have the upper hand.. unless your Paris Hilton ETC... California has it's own laws....
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    ctf2220 Sep 01, 2010 10:02 PM
    If this passes in the supreme court that they can place a gps on a car they better start budgetting in payroll for the hour undercarraige inspection of every police car that returns to the station around here for gps devices
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    ctf2220 Sep 01, 2010 9:53 PM
    I bet $100 i would be charged with tampering with police property
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    ctf2220 Sep 01, 2010 9:50 PM
    so is it still legal if we were to reverse the situation, and i put tracking devices on local police cars to no where and when to not speed
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    grfrankfurter Sep 01, 2010 5:38 PM
    It seems like only the people who are guilty of doing something wrong are the ones complaining about this.
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    offcenterlevi Sep 01, 2010 2:08 PM
    We continue to lose rights one by one, and nobody seems to care. Police are given godlike powers and frequently abuse them. We think that law enforcement is on our side and will only act to make us safer. Freedom is the great gift that our founders gave to America., and instead of treasuring it and working to preserve it, we take it for granted. It is your right to support what happened in this case. Don't complain, though, if you wake up someday and find yourself living in a police state.
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    dixielatino Sep 01, 2010 1:44 PM
    legallize it ,
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    jump4life Aug 31, 2010 10:52 PM
    munion64, just because someone uses big words and sound somewhat educated, doesn't make them a Liberal. If he or she would be against the so-called War on drugs then I would say they were a Liberal. You on the other hand might just want to look in a mirror next time you get the urge to call someone an IDIOT.
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    l1070 Aug 31, 2010 9:59 PM
    Can they use this in Arizona on illegal immigrants / drug dealers vehicles? Or only if you are a citizen of the United States?
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    munion64 Aug 31, 2010 9:27 PM
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    1 - 20 of 593 Comments
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