Facing Unlawful Installation of a Tracking Device

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

If you put a tracking device on your spouse’s vehicle without their permission, you might face criminal charges. You could face charges for unlawful installation of a tracking device. In this article, I will discuss what unlawful installation of a tracking device is. I will also discuss the defenses to this charge. Finally, you can learn about the consequences of it if you or your spouse get convicted.

What is Unlawful Installation of Tracking Device?

In the state of Texas, unlawful installation of a tracking device is a criminal offense. This offense tries to deter people from monitoring other people’s whereabouts without consent. Without the owner of the vehicle’s consent to it, there are still a few ways that you can install such a device in their vehicle. If you obtain a court authorization or court order to do this, you may install a tracking device without fear of facing this charge. Also, if you are a police officer installing a it in the course of an investigation, this is allowed.

You can face a charge for unlawful installation of tracking device in some cases. This might happen if you install a mechanical or electronic tracking device on a vehicle that is owned or leased by someone else without their knowledge.

Penalties

If charged with an unlawful installation of a tracking device, it is considered to be a Class A Misdemeanor. For a Class A Misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in a county jail and could also face a fine of up to $4,000. These are the most severe penalties that a person can face for this crime. If you hire an attorney, or present evidence at trial to support your case, you could face reduced penalties.

Defenses

If you face unlawful installation of tracking device charges, you need to defend yourself. There are three main defenses that you can use. The first consists of “effective consent.” This happens if the owner of the vehicle (your spouse) gave you consent to put a tracking device in their vehicle. If you have that verbal or written consent, you can use it as a defense. This can help if they try to have you arrested for installing the device.

Another common defense is if you got deceived into installing a tracking device. If you helped another person install a tracking device, without knowing that it was or its purpose, it might not be your fault. If you believed that they were a peace officer, but they are not, this is not your fault. Or, if a person is a peace officer, but they don’t have the authorization to have a tracking device installed, that is not your fault. You can use this as a defense.

The final common defense occurs if the person who installed it was a licensed private investigator. If the investigator has written consent or authorization from the court to install the tracking device, this could be used as a defense.

Consent

Having effective consent could be an ultimate defense. This could mean implied consent or explicit consent given by the owner of the vehicle. Either way, you need to get verification in writing or verbally from your spouse. Your lawyer will have to argue this in front of a judge, so having written consent will make it easier.

One other defense is that you did not know that you were putting a device in the vehicle. If you did not know that the device had tracking capabilities, then you might be able to use this as a defense.

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