By Carolyn J. Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA
There are lots of times many Piedmont Triad and other North Carolinians wish that they could put a GPS tracking device on an ex’s car. Maybe you want to know who the “other woman” or “other man” is. Maybe you want to see what the father or mother of your child is doing. Maybe you want to see if your ex is going to strip clubs. Whatever your reason or mindset, North Carolina has recently enacted new legislation you need to know, and you need to know now!!!
The North Carolina legislature has enacted amendments to North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-196.3 on the crime of cyberstalking. The definition of Cyberstalking now includes electronic tracking devices (GPS). The electronic device may be the type that is hardwired into a car or attached to the car with a battery powering the GPS. It is now unlawful in North Carolina to attach a GPS advice to another person’s vehicle except in certain situations, which should be VERY CAREFULLY EVALUATED. After this new statute, you have to be very careful.
The North Carolina Business Court on October 5, 2015, issued a brilliant opinion regarding the GPS cyberstalking issue. HSG, LLC v. Edge-Works Manuf. Co, 205 NCBC 87. In HSG, one defendant claimed HSG “meddled with his personal vehicle by attaching a GPS tracking device to it.” The HSG well-written opinion essentially indicates that the attaching of the GPS was not the Tort of Invasion of Privacy, something divorce attorneys have long worried about regarding the use of GPS devices in divorce cases.
However, effective December 1, 2015, NCGS 14-196.3 clarifies the GPS issue for all of us. Use of a GPS outside the bounds of this amended statute is cyberstalking and rises to the level of a Class 2 misdemeanor for offenses committed after December 1, 2015.
There are several notable exceptions:
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