A new device will help alert both those who have an order of protection against another person and the police if you get too close to someone you have been ordered by a judge to stay away from. This device is a GPS monitor that will be attached to the person who has violated an order of protection, been released on bail, and had the judge make a finding that they need to wear it. The person who has taken out the order of protection will presumably have some sort of device that will detect when the person who is wearing it is too close. It will send a text message to the person who has the order of protection, as well as local law enforcement. In addition, each violation of the order of protection carries a $200 fine.
The law goes into effect on January 1, 2009.
Now this law is the sort of the law that generally gets passed in haste due to a sensational news story. And this new law, like most of those laws, has a name. The Cindy Bischof Law. You can learn more about Cindy Bischof here.
I feel terrible for the Cindy Bischof family, and frankly, this law doesn’t offend me as someone who has serious issues with men who harm women. I also have defended folks having orders of protection taken out against them, and filed them on behalf of those who are terrorized by exes, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers and co-workers.
Frankly, an order of protection is really nothing more than a piece of paper. Violating the terms of it involves you, the petitioner, to do nothing more than call the police and inform them that whomever you had the order of protection against violated it.
This usually results in the violator being arrested and released. The judge can get angry, tell them to never to do it again, order the protection zone to increase in distance, or get more difficult in all the places and people it covers, but in the end, it’s just a piece of paper. It’s not Kryptonite and it’s not bullet proof.
I have a few problems with this law. It’s not really going to stop anyone intent on doing the sort of heinous crime that killed Cindy Bischof. It will notify the person with the order of protection and presumably make them more aware of their surroundings. But local law enforcement will never arrive in time to stop an actually determined stalker.
Also, very few people are going to actually get these things. There won’t be very many of them available and judges aren’t going to strap them on willy-nilly. Also, this sort of law requires that which I like the least in the law…prediction of the future. The judge will have to make a finding of dangerousness, or predict a person’s future behavior. I don’t see these monitors as deterring the truly psychotic or obsessed in the least.
Still, I understand the impulse behind the law and I don’t have a problem if these are used sparingly and to remind men (and women) that those that have to go as far as to have a court order to have you leave them alone…they mean it!