State Supreme Court Rules GPS Tracking Unconstitutional for Some
Court rules sex offenders convicted before 2007 cannot be forced to wear devices
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that requiring certain sex offenders to wear a GPS tracking device is unconstitutional, according to The Trentonian. The case concerned a man who was required to wear the device despite having been convicted before the monitoring program for sex offenders had been passed into law in 2007. The state’s highest court ruled that requiring the man to wear the device was a violation of his constitutional rights since it essentially added a punishment that was not included in his original sentencing.
The case concerned a man who was convicted of sexual assault in 1986 and served 23 years in prison before being released in 2009. After his release, the man was required to wear an ankle monitor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He was also warned that if he took the device off, he could be charged with a third-degree crime.
The ankle monitor program was part of a law passed in 2007, the Sex Offender Monitoring Act, which required sex offenders who were deemed to be at a risk of reoffending to wear the devices. The device allows authorities to track a convict’s movements following their release from custody.
The state’s Supreme Court, however, has ruled that requiring the man to wear the device was a violation of his constitutional rights. Since the law mandating the trackers was passed decades after he was convicted in 1986, the court ruled that the GPS tracker was an additional punishment that was not part of his original sentencing and therefore violated the ex post facto clauses found in both the New Jersey and U.S. Constitutions.
The court rejected the argument by the state that the devices were not punitive, but rather regulatory. The court referred to the monitoring devices as a form of parole, which the court also noted is considered a form of punishment by the Constitution, according to NJ Advance Media. The ex post facto clause prevents the state from imposing additional or retroactive punishments on an offender after he has served his original sentence. The ruling does not affect those who were sentenced after the monitoring program was passed into law.
Police and prosecutors in New Jersey take sex offenses extremely seriously. Being charged with a sex offense, as the above story shows, can have consequences that last for the rest of a person’s life. In addition to any sentence handed down by a court, many people charged with a sex crime can suffer irreparable damage to their reputations, regardless of whether or not they are ever convicted of a crime.
It is important, therefore, for people to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if they are facing a sex offense charge. A qualified attorney will help minimize the damage posed by a criminal charge and offer invaluable legal guidance for clients dealing with the repercussions of such charges.