The PA Supreme Court has held that GPS data, compiled from a GPS monitoring device on a parolee, is not hearsay because it does not constitute a statement made by a declarant, as outlined in Rule 801, as it is not an assertion (or the nonverbal conduct) of a person.
“Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 801 defines hearsay as an out-of-court statement made by a declarant, which is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Pa.R.E. 801. This type of evidence is generally inadmissible at trial unless it falls into an exception to the hearsay rule. See generally Pa.R.E. 803 (setting forth hearsay exceptions).”
In this discretionary appeal, the Court considered whether Global Positioning System (“GPS”) data (hereinafter, “GPS data” or “GPS records”), compiled from a GPS monitoring device on a parolee, is inadmissible hearsay.
In sum, the Court found that “the language in Rule 801 is clear: a statement is a written or oral assertion of a person. Here, the relevant assertion – the GPS location data – was not made by a person but collected electronically by the GPS monitoring device attached to Clary’s ankle. Thus, by definition, this evidence cannot constitute hearsay.”
The Court left for another day whether, and under what circumstances, such evidence may be challenged on reliability, authentication, or other grounds.