A new law passed in Maryland will require domestic violence suspects to wear GPS trackers. The devices will allow an alleged victim to receive an alert on their smartphone when a suspect is in an area that has been prohibited by a judge - such as a survivor's residence or workplace - while giving victims a chance to remove themselves from the area if they are nearby. Suspects will be required to wear the trackers that come in the form of ankle bracelets in the event of a domestic violence pretrial release or probation.
House Bill 1163, also known as Amber's law, was named after Amber Schinault, a 36-year-old woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend Andrew Kugler in 2012. She had reportedly broken up with Kugler and filed a protection order against him after a heated incident which caused her to sever her finger. Angry and depressed about his ex-girlfriend's decision, Kugler drove to Schinault's home, climbed through a basement window and slashed her throat in a rage. Police found Schinault's body when they performed a welfare check at her home. Kugler was immediately arrested and charged less than 24 hours later. He was later convicted for life in prison.
Aruna Miller, the lawmaker and sponsor who proposed the bill, claimed that its passing would prevent people who take protective measures from getting hurt. She says Schinault and her family did everything right by reporting the assault and filing a protective order. Miller argues that the extra step of requiring suspects to wear trackers will ensure that those who are involved in domestic disputes stay safe, and it will give them some peace of mind.
Several other states in the country have used ankle trackers that help law enforcement keep tabs on their whereabouts. For example, they have been forced upon immigrants as a condition of their release from United States detention centers. But this is the first time they have been used to alert any other entity besides law enforcement of a suspect's location.
Now that the bill has been passed, it will now go to Maryland governor Larry Hogan's desk. He has the option of either signing it, vetoing it or letting it become a law without his signature. If the bill becomes a law and is proven successful, local lawmakers predict it could possibly be proposed and passed in other states.
If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, you should immediately contact an attorney who has extensive experience handling these types of cases. Oftentimes, a mere accusation of domestic violence results in being apprehended and thrown in jail, even if falsely accused. Remember, the whole essence of the judicial system is to protect victims and the falsely accused. If you are facing domestic violence charges in the Seattle area, contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi to begin a free consultation of your case.