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Name: Grady v. North Carolina
Case #: 14-593
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 03/30/2015
Subsequent History: 135 S.Ct. 1368

North Carolina’s satellite-based monitoring program for recidivist sex offenders constitutes a search for Fourth Amendment purposes. Grady was convicted of sex offenses in 1997 and again in 2006. After serving his sentence for the 2006 crime, Grady was ordered to appear for a hearing to determine whether he should be subjected to satellite-based monitoring (SBM) as a recidivist sex offender. He argued that the monitoring would violate his Fourth Amendment rights. The court ordered Grady to enroll in the program and be monitored for life by means of a tracking device. On appeal, the State court rejected Grady’s claim, finding the SBM did not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Certiorari was granted. Held: Reversed in per curiam opinion and remanded. The State’s theory that its nonconsensual SBM program does not entail a search is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. (See United States v. Jones (2012) 132 S.Ct. 945 [government’s installation of a GPS device on defendant’s vehicle and use of device to monitor the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search]; Florida v. Jardines (2013) 133 S.Ct. 1409 [use of a drug-sniffing dog around a suspect’s front porch was a search].) A State “conducts a search when it attaches a device to a person’s body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking that individual’s movements.” The fact that the SBM program was civil in nature was not determinative because the Fourth Amendment’s protection extends beyond criminal investigations. However, this does not decide the ultimate question of whether subjecting Grady to monitoring is an unreasonable search within the Fourth Amendment; this determination depends on the totality of the circumstances. The case was remanded because the State courts did not determine whether the SBM program is reasonable when viewed as a search.