GPS Monitoring of Domestic Abusers: Is That Legal?
You’re finally free from an abusive relationship. You found a new place to live, you have a restraining order against your abuse, and your children are finally safe. But what you may not realize is the abuse has not stopped. In fact, in many instances, it has gotten worse.
In New Jersey, statistics show that domestic violence offenses are actually increasing over time rather than falling. This follows a nationwide trend – according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner per minute on average. This equates to more than 10 million men and women being abused each year.
Lisa’s Law and GPS Monitoring
But domestic violence does not stop once you leave the relationship. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all female homicide victims in 2015 were killed by either a current or former male intimate partner.
Take the story of Letizia “Lisa” Zindell. In 2009, the Toms River woman was found strangled to death in the back of her car at a friend’s house where she was staying to get away from her ex-fiancé. He had regularly violated the restraining order she had against him.
Since her death, a bill named in her honor has been languishing in state Legislature. Lisa’s Law would create a four-year pilot program in Ocean County to electronically track people who have repeatedly violated a restraining order. If the offender was anywhere near the victim, an alert would be issued to the domestic violence victim so he/she can call the police and find safety. The bill was reintroduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2018 where it’s still sitting.
But Is It Legal?
GPS monitoring of domestic abusers is not a new concept. Many states have either passed or are considering similar laws about tracking domestic abusers. But a recent op-ed in the Washington Post questions the legality of these laws:
But given the perils of surveillance and the loss of privacy that such individuals face, should defendants who are accused of a crime, but have yet to be convicted of one, be placed under electronic monitoring?
So is GPS monitoring legal? It is difficult to say. You are taking away a person’s privacy and that person has yet to be found guilty under the eyes of the law. An electric monitor can hurt that person’s employment and restrict his/her movements.
Yet at the same time, these devices can save lives. The victim’s quality of life can improve, safe in the knowledge that the abuser’s whereabouts can easily be detected. Plus, the victim can find the strength needed to go through with charges against the abuser.
Domestic Violence Victim? We Can Help!
For almost 30 years, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has been helping domestic violence victims across New Jersey get the legal help they need to be free of their abusers once and for all. If you are a domestic violence victim and are in need of legal assistance, contact us today for a free consultation.