Law Office of Dawn R. Underhill
Illinois residents have embraced the availability of new technologies that can make life easier and provide entertainment. Unfortunately, there can be a dark side to some of these same technologies, when individuals use the devices for nefarious purposes. Under these circumstances, where technology is used to stalk or harass others, orders of protection may be available.
Take, for example, GPS devices, which have become increasingly common and are now found on most smartphones. Some individuals have used these devices improperly, by tracking the whereabouts of others, without their knowledge or consent.
GPS devices are now affordable and small enough that they can be placed on vehicles or in other locations to track someone’s movements. Often, this type of conduct may be combined with harassing phone calls or other intimidating stalking behavior. Indeed, it is estimated that 3.4 stalking cases occur each year, with one-fourth of those involving some type of technology.
Some have commented that the law is behind the technology in this area. The U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill that would try to bring the law up to speed in some respects, by banning “stalking apps.”
Until such laws are passed, it may be unclear what the legal effect is of stalking devices, particularly in divorce cases. In some cases, courts may conclude the stalking is sufficient to justify a temporary restraining order. In others, however, a judge may require more, like clear threats of violence or harassment.
If available, the order of protection can prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or order the abuser to stay a certain distance away from the victim. Ultimately, these situations may be fact intensive, and therefore it is essential to work with a qualified attorney who can advocate for an order of protection and advise the victim on the state of the law.
Source: STL Today, “Stalkers find friend in GPS technology,” Jennifer Mann, Jan. 7, 2013