Big Arizona case: Is pre-conviction monitoring legal?

by | Aug 23, 2019 | Criminal Law | 0 comments

Every individual facing a criminal charge has one thing in common: they are innocent until proven guilty.

But this right has come under fire recently. A case in Mohave County has raised concerns over how Arizona courts could violate an individual’s civil rights.

A closer look at the story

Although Craig Williams, Attorney at Law, PLLC, is not involved in this particular case, it is important to shed light on this issue. It is something that could potentially affect anyone who faces a serious criminal charge.

Both state and federal laws allow courts to establish specific conditions upon someone’s release from jail. One of the most common of these factors is requiring individuals to wear GPS trackers. This allows both courts and law enforcement to monitor the individual and ensure they do not violate the conditions of their probation or parole.

However, an Arizona court in Mohave County ordered an individual to wear a GPS monitoring device before they even went to trial. This individual, charged with sexual misconduct, reported that he would comply with this order. However, since he could not afford to purchase the tracker himself, he instead faced jail time with bail set at an excessive $100,000.

Is this legal?

This is the only case involving this issue so far. However, this practice is currently legal under Arizona law. The law states that courts can order “electronic monitoring” of individuals charged with specific felonies, such as violent crimes or sexual misconduct, before they attend a trial and even before they face a conviction.

However, many people, including the ACLU, state that this law is unconstitutional. It interferes with every individual’s right to due process, which helps:

  • Protect an individual’s guaranteed constitutional rights
  • Ensure fairness in the criminal justice process

The main goal of due process is to maintain someone’s right to “life, liberty and property.” However, it seems that attaching a GPS tracker to monitor an individual before they are convicted of a crime violates their liberty—especially if they are innocent until proven guilty.

The ACLU is in the process of appealing this law and the Mohave County court’s decision, and we have yet to see how this appeal will turn out.

Regardless, it might be beneficial for individuals in a situation like this to consult an attorney. Anyone facing serious criminal charges must take action to protect their civil rights.

FindLaw Network