When you are going through a divorce in Georgia, you should be aware of the risks associated with AirTag and similar property location devices. Although there are hundreds of positive ways to use an AirTag, a stalker can misuse it to monitor you without your knowledge and your spouse can use it to gain information about your whereabouts to use against you in the divorce. What should you do if you think someone is using an AirTag to stalk you? Here's everything you need to know about AirTag stalking and restraining orders in Georgia.
AirTags are compact tracking devices that maintain long battery life and provide precise location information. They use Bluetooth LE to communicate with millions of iPhones, iPads, and Macs worldwide, unlike GPS trackers, which require cell service and drain batteries quickly.
The location information from an AirTag is uploaded to the cloud and displayed on a map for easy reference. These small tracking devices can be easily concealed in handbags, coat pockets, or cars.
Stalking is an offense in Georgia unless an individual has been convicted more than once or if an individual who has a stalking order against them violates that order while it is in effect. In those cases, the offense can be a felony. A person commits stalking when they follow, place them under surveillance, or contact another person at or about a place or places without the other person's consent to harass or intimidate the other person.
A stalker is someone who purposefully or knowingly engages in conduct directed at a specific person, leading a reasonable individual to fear for their safety or the safety of a third individual.
In Georgia, putting someone under surveillance via an AirTag can be considered aggravated stalking. If convicted of this felony, the stalker faces no less than one year and not more than ten years in prison, plus fines of up to $10,000.
A person does not have to have threatened nor have a previous stalking conviction to be charged with aggravated stalking.
If you are a victim of stalking, you may petition the court for a stalking protective order (TPO); also called a restraining order. This court document requires an individual to cease engaging in abusive behavior, including harassing, stalking, and threatening you.
In Georgia, it's also possible to petition for a family violence protective order against a spouse, family member, or household member that has committed an act of violence against you or threatened to do so. The court essentially orders the person to stay away from you, your home, and your work locations. The abuser is also prohibited from contacting you through friends, family members, and other third parties, as well as social media and the internet.
Typically, these orders last from three months to one year but can be extended for three years or permanently. In other words, a court order tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing them from harassing or abusing you again.
Family violence or stalking TPOs should not be used to gain an advantage during a divorce or child custody proceedings. These orders are designed to protect people from real and imminent threats. Attempts to misuse a TPO can backfire and the courts may penalize you if they believe you acted in bad faith.
Temporary protective orders are available to those who fear for their safety due to harassment, stalking, or intimidation. If you obtain a protective order, you may still pursue criminal charges against them.
Note that AirTags start beeping if separated from their paired device for more than 24 hours.
Firstly, don’t go home or to work if you think you are being tracked. Instead, go straight to the police station or stay in a safe place. For example, hotel lobbies and banks are some common areas that have security personnel and cameras 24/7. Be wary of anyone following you or trying to speak with you during this time.
After locating the AirTag, you will need to deactivate it from the Find My network app. Remove the battery and take a picture of the serial number. Report it to authorities (police); they can work with Apple to identify the owner. Don't destroy the AirTag, as it may be used as evidence in your case.
Being surveilled is a terrifying invasion of privacy. Once out of immediate danger, you should hire a skilled family law and restraining order lawyer for expert guidance in filing TPO paperwork and laying criminal charges. It's not mandatory to hire a restraining order attorney, but is advisable to ensure that your rights are protected.
An experienced Georgia divorce and family law attorney can help you understand your legal options and protect your rights if you are the victim of stalking and need a restraining order. Contact Georgia divorce and family law Attorney Sharon Jackson for a consultation by calling (678) 436-3636 today.