A recent news story highlighted the frightening statistic that victims of domestic violence and homicides are stalked in 80% of cases before the crime charged is even committed. Stalking has taken on a new form as technology has continued to advance. With one click, criminals can go online and find a person’s whereabouts with relative ease. Applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare all provide options for people to “check in,” making their locations immediately known to the general public. Another tactic people use in stalking is the utilization of GPS technology to track their victim by placing a tracking device on a car without the victim’s knowledge.
Tracking Your Partner’s Moves
You may think that some of these behaviors are relatively harmless—“checking up on” your ex partner or your child’s other parent. However, Florida is following New York and many other state’s lead in making it illegal to track the movements of others without their consent by using electronic technology. The New York law, passed in October 2014, makes GPS use without consent a class B misdemeanor. The possible Florida law would specify that even if consent was previously given to use these tracking devices, the consent would automatically terminate if the victim is granted a restraining order against that person.
Stalking laws in the digital age face many challenges with enforceability. Specifically, it is difficult to define “stalking” when certain people are voluntarily putting information up on social media for anyone to see. People can figure out where you are from your posts, from your pictures, and from what you are writing about to other people. Using this information to find someone and harm them is considered a form of stalking.
With regards to tracking, certain vehicles come equipped with GPS, but the activity may be monitored by third parties. There are also conceivable scenarios where tracking without consent is arguably necessary, such as tracking new drivers or individuals that have dementia or other similar conditions. However, Florida lawmakers are making it clear that they think utilizing GPS technology without the consent of the person traveling should be illegal. Not only is it a violation of privacy, but it is a significant safety concern, particularly in relationships that have a history of domestic violence or abuse.
Florida Domestic Violence Lawyers
Following someone can be a crime. Using public information for the wrong reasons can also be a crime. If this new law goes into effect, the definition of stalking will be expanded to include actions that you may not even know are unlawful. Allegations of domestic violence or stalking are very serious and can have a detrimental impact on your life. If you or anyone you know has been accused of stalking, harassment, or domestic violence, you need experienced domestic violence attorneys to help you navigate the criminal justice system. Our non-judgmental, knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth will listen to your story to ensure the best outcome possible, whether it be a dismissal or lesser charges being brought against you. Contact our Orlando office as soon as possible to make sure your legal rights are protected.