9 Investigates

New law makes removing GPS monitor a felony

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A new state law makes it a felony for someone to remove a court-ordered GPS monitor.

It’s aimed at adding more protection for domestic violence victims.

It will have little impact in Orange County, however, because GPS monitors are not in use.

In 2013, some accused abusers were ordered to wear GPS monitors, which were paid for by a special $300,000 appropriation from the state.

That program ended when the money ran out, and court administrators said they don't have the money to start it up again.

Domestic violence suspects who were considered likely to violate court injunctions were ordered to wear the monitors.

If they got too close to their victims, the victims would get an immediate phone call warnings and knew to get to a safe place.

After 12 domestic violence deaths in five months in central Florida, WFTV legal analyst Belvin Perry, who was chief judge then, got funding for the GPS program.

“No one was killed during the pilot program. This new law adds a major tool, because if someone cuts off the device, it is now a felony, which gives law enforcement the right to arrest them without a warrant,” Belvin said.

Perry was instrumental in ending the GPS program in criminal cases, after Wilfred Gregory allegedly shot and almost killed someone while on bond and on a monitor.

He was accused of cutting if off and was on the run for hours before the GPS company alerted Apopka police.

Perry believes more measures need to be in place before the county even considers using GPS in criminal cases again, like 24/7 monitoring and immediate response to alerts, so that enforcement can act.

State Sen. David Simmons worked to get the new law passed.

He's hoping someone will find money somewhere to bring back the GPS program for domestic violence cases.

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