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GPS monitoring could prevent domestic violence

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it is common for a husband and wife or for same-sex partners to have arguments over certain issues. However, when simple arguments repeatedly turn into heated ones and one of the spouse's ends up hurting the other, this pattern of abuse has a name: domestic violence.

Here in Pennsylvania, a 27-year-old woman and mother of three has been a victim of domestic abuse since 2004, when her then-boyfriend became physically abusive. The woman sought a restraining order, which is still in effect to this day, to keep the abuser away. Nonetheless, the abuse continued, beginning whenever she had to deliver stay-away orders to her ex. After the woman's police escort would leave, her ex began attacking her. Other times her former boyfriend would stay outside her workplace, and call her more than 50 times, just to berate her.

The woman's story has inspired a new bill proposed by Rep. Brendan Boyle that would toughen domestic violence penalties in the state. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 141 recorded domestic violence deaths in 2012. Rep. Boyle considers domestic violence a serious problem in this state. Victims, not only suffer from physical injuries, but emotional scars as well.

The new bill, if passed, would require local and state police officers to undergo domestic violence training every year. The measure would also allow the courts to send stay-away orders via mail to the abuser, instead of requiring hand-deliveries that are usually dropped off by the victims themselves. Lastly, domestic abusers, especially those who have history of violating their stay-away orders, would be required to wear GPS monitoring devices.

Tracking devices will allow police officers to monitor the location of abusers, preventing them from going anywhere near the victim. Abusers, knowing that they are being tracked, will choose to stay away from their victims, therefore, decreasing the chances of a repeated abuse.

As of now, victims can only rely on a restraining order to protect themselves from their abusers. They may choose to seek legal assistance in order to file the complaint.

Source: The Inquirer, "Pa. bill to toughen domestic-violence penalties would include GPS monitoring," Dana DiFilippo, Jan. 31, 2014

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