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Tracking devices on the table for domestic violence defendants

New domestic violence laws in Pennsylvania could update the state’s mandates, extending extra protection to vulnerable parties who need it. New legislation would allow law enforcement officers to receive domestic violence training and lawmakers believe the additional education will help both accusers and alleged offenders during incidents of domestic violence. Further, provisions that require victims to hand-deliver protective orders to their abusers would be abolished in favor of using certified mail or accessible print such as the newspaper if the defendant’s address is unlisted. The most controversial provision would be a requirement that offenders who have previously violated a protective order be outfitted with GPS trackers—something akin to an ankle bracelet. Proponents of the measure say it is a wise idea to track the offenders without spending taxpayer dollars to keep them in jail. Instead of paying about $100 per day for a jail or prison stay, the new system would only cost $10 per day. Statistics show that about 140 people died in 2012 from domestic violence in Pennsylvania alone. Opponents say the tracking devices constitute government spying that unfairly peeks into individuals’ private lives. Statistics from Philadelphia do not indicate how often the protective orders were actually violated, which weakens the case for GPS tracking. Advocates say that offenders are still less likely to violate restrictions if the government is tracking their movement. Legislators in nearly thirty states have either approved similar monitoring techniques or introduced bills that would institute a change. A study from California shows that offenders enrolled in the tracking program are less likely to harass their targets. Criminal defendants deserve to have their civil rights preserved, even though they are charged with a crime. It remains to be seen whether Pennsylvania offenders will be required to be outfitted with the tracking devices. A criminal defense attorney such as Gary Gerson can help those facing domestic violence charges learn more about their legal options. Call (412) 281-3380 with questions today.

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