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COA affirms GPS monitoring after violation of protective order

July 20, 2017

A Hendricks County man will remain on GPS monitoring after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday his estranged wife presented sufficient evidence of his violation of a protective order and that he had notice of the possibility that he could be put on a GPS tracker.

In P.S. v. T.W., 32A01-1610-PO-2426, T.W. filed a petition for an order of protection against her estranged husband and business partner, P.S., which the Hendricks Superior Court granted ex parte. Then, at a scheduled hearing, T.W. testified that her husband abused illegal substances and had indicated he would commit suicide or kill her if she tried to leave. Based on that testimony, the trial court issued the protective order.

Specifically, the order prohibited P.S. from threatening, harassing or contacting T.W., visiting her residence or job, using the mailbox for their Brownsburg business and possessing a firearm, ammunition or other deadly weapon. The order is set to expire in September 2018, but in October 2016, T.W. filed an emergency show cause motion alleging P.S. had committed multiple violations of the order.

At a subsequent hearing, T.W. presented evidence that her estranged husband had been “watching her,” removing equipment for her property or directing others to do so, attempting to contact her through a third party and had hacked into her email account and changed the password. Based on that evidence, the trial court entered three orders requiring P.S. to wear a GPS tracking device and requiring him to stay at least one mile away from her residence.

On appeal, P.S. claimed “his right to due process was violated because he was never put on notice that a violation of the protective order could subject him to GPS monitoring at his own expense.” Specifically, P.S. said the court was constrained to ordering him to pay a fine or to serve time, per the language of the protective order.

But Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May wrote Thursday that P.S. cited to no caselaw requiring the trial court to apprise him of all possible penalties. Further, as “all persons are charged with the knowledge of the rights and remedies prescribed by statute,” P.S. did not lack notice of the possibility that he could be subject to GPS tracking, May said.

P.S. further argued the trial court “failed to issue specific written findings explaining how (he) violated the protective order,” so “it appears that the court’s determination that P.S. violated the protective order was based on a finding that P.S. entered the property and removed several items.” But such an argument ignores the evidence of P.S.’s other violations of the order, May said, such as hacking into T.W.’s email account and attempting to contact her.

“T.W. testified P.S.’s actions, including sitting in his vehicle across from her property, made her feel very harassed,” the judge wrote. “T.W. presented sufficient evidence P.S. violated the terms of the PO, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when so concluding.”

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