COA: Man did not have expectation of privacy after he was tracked by GPS

May 26, 2016

Tracking of man by GPS did not violate his Fourth Amendment or Indiana constitutional rights, the Court of Appeals ruled, because he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The appellate court upheld Joseph Sidener's Class C felony burglary conviction and the finding he is an habitual offender.

Sidener was tracked via GPS after Evansville police got a warrant to put a tracking device on the car of Jeffrey Green’s mother due to several acts of burglary in the county. Police tracked the car to a salon, where Green and Sidener stole $69 in cash. The two were pulled over shortly after the theft and arrested, and Sidener was determined to be a habitual offender.

In a decision written by Judge John Baker, the COA ruled Sidener did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because he was a passenger in the car and not a driver. Sidener argued the Indiana Constitution gave him more protection because it also covers the possessory interests in any property seized, but the COA disagreed.

Sidener attempted to distinguish the initial placement of the GPS device, which characterizes as the search in this case, from the tracking, which he says is the seizure. But he did not cite to any case, and Baker wrote the separation “is artificial and makes little sense.”

The COA also ruled the evidence was more than sufficient to uphold his convictions. The crow bar used to break glass inside the salon was in the car with blue paint from the salon on it. Also Sidener had the cash.

The COA also ruled the trial court did not err when it allowed a late amendment the state made to his habitual offender charge.

The case is Joseph Sidener v. State of Indiana, 10A01-1507-CR-1006.



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