October 2022

Massachusetts: GPS Monitoring as Condition of Probation Was Unreasonable Search

After defendant was convicted of rape and sentenced to incarceration followed by probation, the sentencing court denied defendant’s motion to vacate a condition of probation that imposed GPS monitoring for three years. Initially, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that it could treat defendant’s Sex Offender Registry classification as dispositive of defendant’s risk of re-offense when evaluating the reasonableness of a search occasioned by GPS monitoring. The Court went on to reverse holding that the government’s interest in imposing GPS monitoring did not outweigh the privacy intrusion and thus monitoring was an unreasonable search where having the GPS device physically attached to his body significantly burdened defendant’s interest in bodily autonomy, the device’s required maintenance could impose a threat to defendant’s livelihood as it required a charged battery at all times, the information exposed through the GPS monitoring was uniquely revealing, defendant had no previous history of sex offenses, and it was unclear whether the device was configured with the exclusion zone around the victim’s home. Commonwealth v. Roderick, ___ N.E.3d ___ (09-16- 2022, WL 4281854).