New Jersey Court Permits Surreptitious Spouse Tracking

A New Jersey appeals court ruled last week that placing a GPS tracking device in a spouses vehicle does not violate any privacy laws. Back in 2007 Kenneth Villanova’s now ex-wife hired private investigator Richard Leonard to catch her husband cheating. When attempts to follow Villanova failed,Leonard suggested that the wife hide a GPS tracking device in Villanova’s vehicle. These events ultimately led to Villanova being caught with another woman.

Villanova sued Leonard for invasion of privacy,but the appeals court upheld the dismissal of the case by the lower courts. The court ruled that Villanova had no reason to expect privacy,since the GPS device placed in Villanova’s car only tracked his movements on public streets where there is no expectation of privacy. The GPS device was not doing anything different than a person tailing Villanova would do.

This ruling does not explicitly permit for private investigators to track cheating husbands surreptitiously;however,it does allow private investigators some legal wiggle room. According to Lisa Reed,owner of LSR Investigations,GPS devices will only be placed in a vehicle if the spouse has some legal connection to the vehicle. This ruling has no effect on the the ongoing Supreme Court case as to whether or not law enforcement officers require a warrant to track a suspect’s vehicle.

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