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Does Placing a GPS Device in Your Spouse’s Car Constitute Domestic Violence?

Child riding in a car

Is it domestic violence to place a GPS device in your spouse’s car?  It could be.  While this act alone may not be entirely dispositive of whether an act of domestic violence has been committed, it certainly can be found to constitute stalking and harassment.

Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct where one directly or indirectly, by any action, method or device or means of following, monitors, observes or surveils another person without their knowledge.

Harassment is defined, in part, as subjecting another to striking, kicking, shoving or threatening to do so, risking someone’s health or well-being.

Placing a GPS device in a spouse’s car could be deemed a predicate act of domestic violence under harassment or stalking, or both.  If a predicate act of domestic violence is found, along with the law under Silver, which requires the court to find that the victim needs to be protected from immediate danger or to prevent further abuse, a restraining order can be entered.

In the recent case of A.T. v. R.T., a husband placed a GPS device in his estranged wife’s car.  The court found that the act constituted stalking and harassment and that the wife needed additional protection from future violence, and entered a Final Restraining Order to protect her.

In the case of L.A.V.H. v. R.J.V.H., the court found that the ex-husband, who retained a private investigator to place a GPS tracking device in his ex-wife’s car, had committed an act of domestic violence by way of stalking, and a Final Restraining Order was issued against him.

Furthermore, the act of placing a GPS device on the vehicle of a person who later discovers the device and experiences emotional distress and fear for their safety, can be deemed as Domestic Violence.

If you have any questions or concerns about this post or any other matrimonial/family law issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at jllawrence@nmmlaw.com.