North Carolina Supreme Court Rules Automatic Lifetime GPS Monitoring Unconstitutional For Sex Offenders

The State of North Carolina like Michigan has what’s called a satellite-based monitoring as part of their arm of punishment for repeat sex offenders and other specific offenders. This is essentially a GPS tether that someone must wear every day for the rest of their lives, even if they have completed probation or parole and are not otherwise being supervised by the state. As such, the government has essentially “tagged” someone and will always have their whereabouts available to law enforcement. This tagging becomes automatic in North Carolina once it’s shown that the violator is a repeat offender.

How did we even get here?

This issue was made possible when the United States Supreme Court ruled that satellite-based monitoring systems like the one in North Carolina constituted a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The court described the system as attaching an ankle monitor to a person’s body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking that individual’s movements. The court remanded the case and directed the lower court to determine whether the State of North Carolina’s satellite-based monitoring system was reasonable when viewed as a search subject to the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

The case at issue here is North Carolina v. Grady. Where the defendant Torrey Grady was required to wear a GPS tether as part of the state of North Carolina’s satellite-based monitoring system for the rest of his life because he is considered a “recidivist” due to two sex crimes he committed at the ages of 17 and 26 years old. Of which, he has fully served both sentences. Simply because he has two, he is a recidivist under the law and required to wear a gps tether for life. There was no mechanism for an individual determination of his case and there was no mechanism or ability for any judge to ever remove the GPS tether as a condition.

The court had no discretion on this issue when the offender is classified as a sexually violent predator, a recidivist, convicted of an aggravated offense, or convicted of a statutory rape with a victim under the age of 13. Now, the State of North Carolina will require some stated reasons on record why a specific offender should be required to be under a lifetime GPS tether. This is simply affording some due process in an area where it looks to have been skipped over.

The North Carolina has also ruled to allow offenders sentenced to lifetime monitoring to seek to have their lifetime satellite-based monitoring system lifted completely.

What about here in Michigan?

The State of Michigan has a similar program that applies to those convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct First or Second Degree when the victim is less than 13 years old while the offender is over the age of 17. Notably the statute does not provide any relief nor any avenue to stop the electronic monitoring. The offender has to bear all of the cost for the monitoring, there is no assessment made about the offender and finally, there is no ability to have a review of the decision for a lifetime electronic monitor. This is obviously a pretty harsh and black and white sort of approach on an issue that will affect the offender’s freedom for the rest of their lives. It would seem appropriate to allow some sort of specified standards that would need to be met in order to sentence and offender to lifetime monitoring, but that is not the case here in the State of Michigan. Our website has more in-depth information here.

While the bell has been rung on this issue in other states, there is nothing immediate that will change the law in Michigan unless the right case is appealed to properly hear this issue. As such some post-conviction options may be available to you or a loved one if the right case is present. If you are currently facing possible Criminal Sexual Conduct charges, then it is imperative to immediately speak to an attorney directly to help to understand what is going on. Having an attorney involved from the very beginning can sometimes prevent charges from being brought at all. Our attorneys at Grabel & Associates have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending sex crimes all over the State of Michigan. Call us on our 24/7 defense help line at 1-800-342-7896, or contact us online or come visit one of our three statewide locations. Our consultation is free, and we can even come to you.

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