Is it Legal to Install a GPS Tracking Device on Your Spouse’s Car?

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

If you are thinking about a divorce or going through a divorce, you might become suspicious of your spouse. In the past, maybe it made sense when they told you that they would work late. Maybe you didn’t think anything of it. But suddenly, you start to wonder if they are really where they say that they will be. You wonder if they are deceiving you. If you start to feel suspicious of your spouse divorce might become a real possibility. If this is the case, you might want to track where your spouse is going. Some people do this by putting a tracking device on their spouse’s car. Before you put a tracking device on your spouse’s car, you need to find out if this action is legal or not. In the state of Texas, using a GPS device to track your spouse will be legal in some situations. But, it will be illegal in others. In this blog series, I will discuss important factors such as:

  • What a tracking device is.
  • When it is legal or illegal to use a GPS device to track your spouse.
  • Defense to a GPS tracking device charge.
  • Penalties for this crime.

To learn more, read on.

What is a Tracking Device?

Tracking devices that apply to this situation are mechanical or electronic tracking devices. More specifically, this refers to any device that can emit an electronic signal or frequency to identify, monitor, or record a person’s location. A common example of this type of device is the GPS device. A less complex example of a tracking device is an odometer. That is because a person could check the odometer to determine how far a person drove in a given period of time. So, if your spouse said they were running to the office, which is 5 miles down the road, but they return with 50 miles on the odometer, you can assume that they were lying.

Situations Where a Tracking Device is Legal

As mentioned before, tracking devices are legal in some situations and illegal in others. Two factors should get considered to determine the case in your situation. First, you need to consider owner consent. You also need to consider what happens if the vehicle is jointly owned by both spouses.

Under Texas statutes, you can place a tracking device on someone else’s vehicle with that person’s consent. There is some ambiguity in the law when one spouse places the tracking device on the other spouse’s vehicle. If the tracked spouse owns or leases the vehicle solely in his or her name, then it is illegal for the non-owner spouse to install a tracking device on it. If this happens, the spouse who placed the device may get criminally prosecuted for stalking and any evidence obtained will not apply in family law court.

On the other hand, if the vehicle is owned jointly in both names, and both parties drive the vehicle, one party may legally install a tracking advice without the knowledge of the other one. Usually. Even if the vehicle is owned and registered in both names, it is beyond question that only one spouse ever drives the vehicle, it may be illegal for the non-driving spouse to install a tracking device on it.

Facing Unlawful Installation of a Tracking Device

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 and the defenses to this charge. Finally, you can learn about the consequences of it if you or your spouse get convicted. Click here to read this article.

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