Technology and Catching a Cheating Spouse
Not long ago, the major tool used to catch a cheating spouse was a private detective who would follow the suspected cheater and try to get photos of the spouse in the act. But today, with all the intelligence technology that has become so inexpensive and available, it's a lot easier to find out exactly what a philandering spouse has been up to.
However, this technology raises some important legal questions. Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement using a GPS tracking system to monitor someone's movements constitutes a “search”. The court ruled a warrant must be obtained before a tracker can be put on someone's vehicle. The law about GPS tracking by a private individual remains a gray area.
Some states, like California, Minnesota, Texas and Virginia, allow private individuals to put a tracking device on a person's vehicle if that person gives their consent. Where there is no consent, it is considered a misdemeanor that can result in a fine and a jail sentence of 6 to 12 months.
But what happens when a vehicle is jointly owned by both spouses? Is it legal for one spouse to install the tracker without the other spouse knowing about it? Once again it depends on what state you live in. In N.J., a judge ruled it was okay for a spouse to use a GPS tracker. In that case, the wife had hired a private investigator to follow her suspected cheating husband. The husband kept managing to lose the investigator, so he gave the wife a GPS tracker to put in the husband's car. The husband eventually sued his soon to be ex-wife and the private investigator for invasion of privacy. The judge denied the claim.
In a case in CA, the courts ruled differently. In Georgia v. Randolph, The state Supreme Court ruled joint consent was necessary for the lawful consent of jointly owned property. This ruling could apply to GPS tracking as well.
If you suspect that your spouse is cheating, before taking action, contact one of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC's knowledgeable and dedicated attorneys who will make sure that whatever steps you need to take to protect your family and assets is legal in Illinois.
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