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North Carolina bill in question over electronic monitoring

Every year, people in North Carolina die from domestic violence, making it a serious problem in the state. Victims of domestic violence are often afraid to report the abuse or leave their abuser after the abuser has made threats against them or their children. Some seek to escape the physical abuse by leaving and getting a protective order, but in some cases, the abuser violates the order, leaving the victim seriously injured or killing them.

A bill being considered by North Carolina lawmakers proposes to use electronic monitoring on someone who has been accused of domestic violence and has a protective order issued against them. The problem lies in the fact that the person has not been convicted of a crime and therefore, engaging in a practice to track them could be a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, concerning search and seizure. 

On the other hand, electronic monitoring could prevent the abuser from stalking their victim, keeping that victim safer than a protective order on its own can.  With electronic monitoring, law enforcement could be alerted that a person has just disobeyed the protective order and would be able to respond immediately.

The potential of saving lives could outweigh the concern over personal rights, especially because victims usually have to show a judge proof that they have been abused in order to get a protective order and generally there is some evidence already collected, implicating the abuser. When a victim of domestic violence is trying to deal with the legalities of protection, it may be a good idea for them to meet with an experienced attorney.

Source: WRAL, “Domestic violence monitoring bill faces cost, constitutional questions,” Mark Binker, Jun. 18, 2013

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