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North Carolina Proposes Placing GPS Monitors On Domestic Violence Offenders Who Have Already Served Their Time

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A new bill known as “Allison’s Law” introduced in North Carolina proposes to track domestic violence offenders using GPS devices. As a result, it has a number of civil rights and criminal defense advocates concerned that it goes too far in violating the rights of criminal defendants in North Carolina who have already served their time. Specifically, the bill would allow the placement and use of a GPS tracking device on someone who has committed acts of domestic violence in the past, most likely monitoring not only the offender’s location, but the victim’s as well. The bill would also likely assign the cost of the device to the offender.

For now, the law proposes to establish a pilot program in Forsyth County before it is used throughout the state; however, it appears that lawmakers and those implementing the new measures have a significant amount of details to decide on before safely putting the program in place. It also appears that the proposal directly violates a decision out of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, as we discuss below.

Questions That Remain

According to the legislation, as currently drafted, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety still needs to consider/answer the following before/in implementing the pilot program:

  • The type of offender they would track: Should it be all offenders who violate a protective order, or only those that have been violent, and if so, what technically falls under “violent”?
  • Who would monitor the offenders: Would it be local law enforcement or would this task be outsourced to an independent agency so as to try and prevent abuse?
  • How would the program be paid for?
  • What type of GPS devices would be used: Would it be active tracking (real-time location, 24 hours per day), or passive tracking (information by monitor received once per day when uploaded)?
  • Would the victim’s location also be monitored? If so, what types of privacy and safety concerns might be involved?
  • Are there any already-existing programs out there that the program could be based on or at least learn from, including within and outside of North Carolina?; and
  • What kinds of legal issues might be relevant in a program like this?

How Is This Legal?

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that GPS trackers are a form of search and seizure that could very well violate the Fourth Amendment. It does not matter whether the device is placed on a car or a person, it constitutes a search. Interestingly, the case that the high court decided had to do with North Carolina ordering a convicted sex offender to wear a GPS monitor at all times so that his location could be monitored. It would therefore appear that this issue has already been decided as violating constitutional rights. 

Contact Our Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys To Find Out More

If you have been charged with a crime here in North Carolina, it is imperative that you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Once convicted, those with records could end up having their lives—and their privacy infringed upon permanently—even if it is blatantly illegal. Contact our North Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Hauter Law Firm, PC today to find out more.

Resources:

theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/supreme-court-if-youre-being-gps-tracked-youre-being-searched/389114/

ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H41v1.pdf

wcnc.com/article/news/crime/newly-introduced-bill-would-push-to-track-nc-domestic-violence-offenders/275-33066171-ec93-44df-a19f-3030f625cc0d

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