NASHVILLE (March 4) — State Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newbern, has introduced legislation to strengthen Tennessee’s anti-stalking laws and further protect residents from being unknowingly tracked.
According to House Bill 2802, a person could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for the crime of stalking if they used an electronic tracking or Global Positioning System (GPS) device to secretly monitor the location of an individual and/or their property without consent. State law currently requires at least two separate “noncontinuous acts” to occur before someone could be charged with the offense.
“With recent advancements in technology, devices like GPS trackers have become significantly smaller in size and are much more affordable than ever before,” Grills said. “While these devices can have beneficial uses like helping someone find their missing keys, they can also unfortunately be exploited by criminals in terrifying ways.”
Police departments across the country have warned residents in recent months about tracking devices being secretly used by would-be criminals to follow vehicles they intended to steal or worse.
“The goal of this bill is to provide another way to help protect people, their property and their privacy,” Grills added. “As a father of two young daughters, it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure the safety of our youth and other vulnerable members of our communities.”
A Class A misdemeanor carries the maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days along with a fine of $2,500.
There were nearly 1,600 reported cases of stalking in Tennessee during 2020, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s most recent annual report.
House Bill 2802 would not prevent law enforcement from using an electronic tracking device during an ongoing criminal investigation. More information about the legislation can be found here.
Editor’s note: Rusty Grills represents House District 77 which includes Dyer, Lake and part of Obion counties. He serves as vice chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is a member of the Naming and Designating Committee as well as the Transportation Committee and Subcommittee.