Family Lawyers Serving Divorcing Couples in North Carolina for Over 30 Years
While working with families and couples, our team at Miller Bowles Cushing is often asked whether a party may place a tracking device on another person’s vehicle. Use a tracking device can elicit impactful evidence in a family law case, such as the ability to prove adultery or other wrongful acts of a spouse. However, as with many questions in North Carolina family law, the answer to this question is that “it depends.”
What North Carolina Laws Say About Tracking Devices
In North Carolina, people are generally prohibited from placing tracking devices on another party’s vehicle. North Carolina General Statute § 14-196.3 defines the placement of such devices on others’ vehicles as illegal cyberstalking which is punishable as a misdemeanor. However, this regulation also outlines several important exceptions to the prohibition on tracking devices that are important to consider in North Carolina Family cases.
One major exception to the rule is that “the owner or lessee of” a vehicle may place a tracking device on any vehicle that they are the “owner or lessee of” regardless of whether they regularly drive the vehicle “unless the owner or lessee is subject to (i) a domestic violence protective order … or (ii) any court order that … orders the owner or lessee not to assault, threaten, harass, follow, or contact a driver or occupant of the vehicle.” Under this exception, a husband or wife is free to place a tracking device on the vehicle of their spouse so long as they are they are an “owner or lessee of” that vehicle and so long as they are not subject to any form of restraining order.
Can I Use Tracking Devices to Monitor My Child’s Movements?
The aforementioned statute also carves out an exception for parents seeking to track their children. A parent or legal guardian may place a tracking device on their child’s vehicle so long as they are doing so to track the child and so long as they are not subject to any sort of restraining order. Central to the legality of such tracking is the intended purpose of the tracking. In other words, was the parent tracking the child or tracking someone else’s movements through the child’s vehicle?
In short, you may be able to use a tracking device to track your child if you are doing so in order to look after your child (as opposed to doing so in order to monitor another person’s activities and whereabouts.)
The law also provides an exception to allow for licensed private investigators to place tracking device on vehicles of a party’s spouse so long as the surveilled person is not protected by a restraining order and certain other requirements are met.
Help for Parents and Spouses in North Carolina
If you are planning on using a tracking device to track the location of a spouse or child, it is important to first know what is and isn’t legal in North Carolina. Given that every situation is different, the best way to know your rights is to speak with a North Carolina family lawyer first. Connect with a member of our team at Miller Bowles Cushing today to get the help you need and the legal counsel you can trust.
To speak with one of our licensed family law attorneys, call our office at (704) 810-1400 today or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.