Supreme Court: Attaching ankle monitor a Fourth Amendment search

By Anne Blythe . . .A North Carolina program that uses GPS to monitor sex offenders will be scrutinized again by the state’s highest court.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered the N.C. Supreme Court to reconsider a legal challenge by Torrey Dale Grady, a sex offender arguing that his constitutional rights are being violated by the program.

The ultimate decision in the case has the potential to cause a ripple effect across the country. More than 40 states have adopted laws in the past decade that call for some type of GPS monitoring of sex offenders. Some states have expanded the programs to monitor gang members and domestic abusers.

North Carolina is one of eight states that subject some offenders to lifetime monitoring.

Grady, 36, of Wilmington, argues that requiring him to wear an electronic monitor around his ankle is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches and seizures.

Grady was accused in 2006 in New Hanover County of statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a child. He pleaded guilty to one count of taking indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced to almost three years in prison. He was released in 2009.

That offense came after Grady was convicted in 1997 of a second-degree sexual offense. He was 17 at the time, and the registry does not list the age of the victim.

The two convictions classify him as a recidivist under North Carolina law.

In May 2013, after a 20-minute hearing, a N.C. Superior Court judge ordered him to a lifetime of monitoring.

Grady’s lawyers say he must wear the monitor at all times, including while it is charging, which can take as long as six hours.

Attorneys for Grady argued that the monitoring he is subject to is so extreme that it constitutes an illegal search.

The U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed and sent the case back to the N.C. Supreme Court for a fuller hearing on that topic.

“The state’s program is plainly designed to obtain information,” the justices ruled in an unsigned opinion. “And since it does so by physically intruding on a subject’s body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search.”

That conclusion, the justices stated, did not decide the ultimate question of the constitutionality of the North Carolina program.  (See full article in the News & Observer) (Per curiam opinion: Grady v North Carolina (2015))

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2 Thoughts to “Supreme Court: Attaching ankle monitor a Fourth Amendment search”

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  1. There are so many things transpiring around the Country concerning those of us forced to register that it’s difficult to find consistency within the laws. Fundamentally, all of these registration laws violate due process and every protection flowing from within those protections. Unfortunately, we have fragmented organizations where people simply disagree with each other, and to some extent, as result, sabotage the efforts being made to force sensible solutions. Here in Massachusetts, ankle bracelet trackers have been deemed to be unsupportable and wasteful. It’s amazing how our lawmakers don’t consider waste while enacting these nonsense laws and policies, but, oh well, former offenders would rather stand by and take a wait and see approach to life rather than being a part of the necessary changes. As long as infighting and disparity continues from within the halls of these organizations, I’m out!

  2. Will Gurganus

    All of these laws passed are not protecting society. I can understand monitoring a repeat sex offender, but for me and many others; we just made ONE bad choice and are punished for life. Every crime from murder to burglary…… The individual does his/her time and that is it. I moved from NC to SC because NC court ordered me to put a GPS device on my ankle for life and pay $30/month. I moved to SC and I don’t have to do that bs, but I have to pay the state of SC $150 every year on my birth month to live here. I don’t know about you, but this is extortion; if I don’t or cant pay $150 I go to jail for sex offense violation. My crime happened in 2003 and is 13 years ago, I don’t make irresponsible decisions that I made when i was 20 (age of crime I was 22) and I’m 35 now. I made one bad choice and I literally have to pay to live here and watch over my shoulder, for life. Sex Offenders are stripped of all of their America Rights and publicly shamed and constantly turned down for jobs when a background check is done. I can only hope some kind of reform is done and I am relieved of this burden and be a FREE AMERICAN.