Domestic violence monitoring bill faces cost, constitutional questions

Posted June 18, 2013
Updated June 19, 2013

— A bill that would allow for GPS monitoring of those accused of domestic violence faced questions in the Senate Judiciary II Committee Tuesday over cost and its constitutionality. 

Senators did not vote on the bill but peppered its sponsor with questions.

The measure would allow judges to require someone subject to a domestic violence protective order to wear an ankle bracelet. That bracelet would then be monitored to ensure the individual didn't enter an "exclusion zone" around his or her victim's house, school or workplace. 

"The intent would be that (the system) would send an alert when they're in an area that they're not supposed to be," explained Sen. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth. 

Hal Pell, an attorney working for the committee, said the Administrative Office of the Courts had raised questions about the measure. Among them, he said, is whether constant monitoring of someone who hasn't been convicted of a crime might violate federal constitutional prohibitions on illegal searches and seizures.

Domestic violence orders are the products of civil proceedings, not criminal trials, which order someone to stay away from his or her alleged victim.

Pell also said the bill contemplates the person being monitored paying a fee to offset the cost. However, if that person hasn't been convicted of a crime, it's unclear where they would pay that cost or whether the amount involved – possibly more than $500 – would give the defendant the right to a jury trial.

"These amounts could run into the thousands of dollars," he said.

Other states have required monitoring only after there has been a violation of an initial domestic violence order. 

Members of the committee said they backed the idea behind the bill but worried that those problems needed to be worked out before it was passed.

"It just sounds like its more appropriate to do a study," said Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash.

The bill wouldn't take effect until late in 2014, she observed, so the measure could be heard during next year's legislative session.

But Lambeth asked that the Senate pass the bill and suggested lawmakers could work out any problems with costs next year.

Other senators were skeptical that the measure would have its intended effect.

"Anyone who is intent on murdering someone is going to find a way to do it," said Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke. "Are we really going to be able to solve the problem?"

As of 2010, there were 16 states using GPS to do some sort of monitoring in domestic violence cases. Pell said that, in some states, violations of domestic violence orders had been cut significantly by the program. 

Committee Chairman Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, said the bill could be taken up at a future meeting.


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  • dollibug Jun 18, 2013

    PERHAPS THE 50 B should apply to both parties - so neither party can use it as a way to get the other party in trouble, which is sometimes the way a person can ABUSE THE SYSTEM****

  • dollibug Jun 18, 2013

    The NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY should put something in place to MAKE SURE THERE IS A NEED FOR THE 50 B PROTECTION ORDER TO BEGIN WITH....and make sure that IF it is discovered NOT TO BE A NEED the person who requested it is THEN CHARGED A PENALTY FOR TRYING TO *FOOL* THE SYSTEM*.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 18, 2013

    I don't see how this would hold up to a court challenge. If the person is convicted of a crime and this is part of the punishment, that has better chance of surviving a court challenge, but since these orders are civil in nature I do not see how this can be applied. Sadly all too often these orders cause more problems than they prevent as the person served just gets more angry.

  • Scubagirl Jun 18, 2013

    The ankle bracelet will NOT work unless there is some way to ALWAYS know where the victim is. Many times the abuser corners the victim away from home or work.....while a good idea in theory, I'm not sure it would work. Not sure what WILL work, but ..... At least they're trying to find a solution.

  • Scubagirl Jun 18, 2013



    EDIT, EDIT, EDIT........