GPS And The Mid-Life Crisis — More On Is It Legal to Track Someone’s Car?

Is it legal to track someone’s car?
Funny how I just wrote about what appears to be a lawyer being overcome by mid-life “wrong-headed thinking”, and then across my desk comes this account of a high school principal apparently acting on his urges rather the good sense we would expect he had been teaching his students for years.

Milan High principal accused of tracking car, suspended

Milan High School Principal John “Flipper” Burks has been suspended without pay after he received a criminal summons charging him with electronic tracking of a motor vehicle in Madison County.

Is it legal to track someone's car?According to documents filed in Madison County General Sessions Court, Burks is accused of placing a GPS tracking device on a woman’s car without her or her husband’s knowledge or consent.

On Oct. 12, a witness reported that Burks was seen squatting next to a car and placing his hand underneath the vehicle while it was parked at the LIFT Wellness Center in downtown Jackson. This occurred three times, in mid-September, on Oct. 8 and on Oct. 11, according to court documents.

On Oct. 13, a tracking device was found on the vehicle, which belongs to Susan and Daymon Warren, court documents say. Madison County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewed the couple, who said they didn’t know the device was there.

A criminal summons on the misdemeanor charge was issued Tuesday, and Burks turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Office, according to court documents.

Burks hasn’t responded to an email requesting comment and did not immediately return a phone call.

Milan Special School District Director of Schools Jonathan Criswell said Burks has been suspended without pay pending the investigation and disposition of the charges made against him.  … Continue reading here

It Is Illegal in Jackson County, Tennessee, That’s For Sure

I get these “is it legal” questions all the time here, and in so many cases it’s really dumb to even ask.

This is one of those really dumb sounding examples.

We all have a reasonably accurate idea of the scope and duties of a high school principal’s job.  One does not have to be a lawyer or a rocket scientist to figure that entering on private property (the wellness center’s parking area), and touching someone else’s private property (the Warren couple’s car) is probably a long, long way outside the job description of any high school principal’s job I’ve ever heard of.  How about you?

You Should Always Seek Competent Legal Advice

But sometimes plain old common sense and the basic principles of ethical behavior that your mom tried to teach you will suffice.  Some things to think about BEFORE you make a move:

  • What’s your motive?  What reason do you have to track another person’s car?  If you think they are up to something criminal, the answer’s easy … put it in the hands of the police.
  • If you think it’s a romantic interest of yours cheating on you, think twice about really wanting to know.  What if you do find them cheating?  And if you suspect and then do not find evidence, is a relationship without trust really worth it?
  • If you suspect something underhanded but perhaps not criminal … like, perhaps a city employee living outside the city and lying about it, then hire a licensed private investigator, and make sure s/he understands rules of evidence … gathering evidence illegally may make the evidence useless.
  • And very importantly, don’t touch someone else’s vehicle without permission.  It’s almost certainly illegal and always wrong.
  • Finally, don’t trespass on private property.  Going onto the parking lot of a clinic for example for illegal purposes is probably a crime even if you never actually place a tracker.

In Short, Act Your Age and Don’t Watch Too Many Crime Shows.

So what are your thoughts?  Is it legal to track someone’s car?