Interesting Law Enforcement Tools and Technology

Interesting Law Enforcement Tools and Technology .

While reviewing some documents in a court case, I came across the sentence:

The police department used an ALPR (Automated License Plate Reader) and noted that the suspect’s vehicle was located near the ABC/XYZ area.

In the case file I was reviewing, police were attempting to locate the house where a suspect had moved and failed to re-register the move with the DMV. Because I was not familiar with this technology, I “googled it”. Apparently an ALPR device can be mounted on police car dashboards, likely traffic signal lights where thousands of license plates are photographed and tracked.

Because a vehicle license plate is placed on the car to be an identifier—in case of an accident, emergency, or crime involving the vehicle—it is certainly legal for officers or any private parties to photograph vehicle plates. An officer can follow a vehicle, look at the license plate because of a hunch, contact dispatch and find out that plate number is associated with a stolen car, or other criminal activity, and then legally stop the car. None of these actions would violate the 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

HOWEVER, law enforcement cannot legally place a tracking device on a particular car without a court order—that is an invasion of privacy and a violation of a person’s constitutional rights.

These ALPR devices would be theoretically an extension of the red light camera, or the officer’s dash-cams. However, setting up a database of the movements of a vehicle is coming closer to the GPS tracker situation, in my opinion. According to this link, the ACLU is not crazy about it either!

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!