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GPS Tracking Devices and Domestic Violence

Posted on: 24th Oct, 2012

Domestic violence is a serious problem throughout the United States. In California, while domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes, statistics are nevertheless indicative of the extent of the issue:

  • Approximately 40% of women in California experience physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetime;
  • 11% of women aged 18 to 24 were victims of domestic abuse in the past year;
  • Dating violence is also prevalent, even among young women. A survey of 11th grade students who had a boyfriend or girlfriend revealed that 13% experienced dating violence; and
  • Domestic violence fatalities account for about 5% of all homicides in California.

While most domestic abuse cases involve women, men are the victims in around 10% of the incidents. Of the 113 domestic violence fatalities in 2010, 12% of the victims were men.

There have been numerous efforts to curb domestic violence through the passage of laws increasing penalties. One issue that has come to the forefront is how to prevent domestic violence in cases where the court has already signed a protective order limiting contact between the defendant and the alleged victim. Accordingly, effective January 2013, a new law goes into effect to attempt to deal with that aspect of the problem. The original bill, AB 2467, became known as “Kathy’s Law”, and is named for a woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend within days after a restraining order was entered against him. It received overwhelming support in the California legislature.

The new law amends PC 136.2. It provides that a court may require, as part of a protective order issued to protect a victim or witness from violence or harassment, that a defendant be placed on electronic monitoring. The monitoring may last up to a year from the date of the issuance of the protective order.

Time will tell if electronic monitoring will have a significant impact upon violence committed after the issuance of a protective order. Some studies suggest that it may depend, at least in part, on whether the monitoring is unilateral (simply tracking a defendant’s whereabouts) or bilateral (GPS for the defendant coupled with another device for the alleged victim). In the former case, the monitoring would only show the defendant’s distance from, for example, the victim’s home; in the latter case, it would also reveal the distance between the two at any given time.

We will be interested to see how the new law will be implemented, and whether it will lead to the desired result.

Law Offices of David Shapiro
3555 4th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-3555

About David Shapiro

A native of New York City, David graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies in 2003 and thereafter attended Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana where he earned his Juris Doctor in 2006. Read More...