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Indiana’s Unlawful Surveillance Law

Indiana’s Unlawful Surveillance Law


Understanding Indiana’s Unlawful Surveillance Law

Technology has brought numerous benefits in today’s interconnected world, simplifying our lives and enhancing our safety. However, there’s a darker side to these advancements that has raised serious ethical and legal concerns. One such issue is the criminal use of GPS-tracking devices for stalking individuals. While GPS tracking devices were initially developed for legitimate purposes such as navigation and asset tracking, their misuse has given rise to a troubling trend that infringes upon personal privacy and poses significant threats to victims.

Because of the misuse of GPS devices to stalk and harm people the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 161, which aimed at criminalizing the use of GPS tracking devices for stalking. Senate Bill 161 went into effect on July 1, 2023.

Criminal Uses of Tracking Devices

The first change this bill brought to the Indiana Code is that it enhances criminal stalking charges if the perpetrator “committed or facilitates” the stalking “by the use of a tracking device.” IC 35-45-10-5(b)(9). Before this addition to the Indiana Code, stalking another by the use of a tracking device was only a Level 6 Felony. The code was silent on using a tracking device to help commit or facilitate the crime.

Second, this bill adds to Indiana Code 35-46-8.5-1, which originally criminalized the use of cameras or electronic surveillance equipment on private property without the consent of the owner or tenant of that property. IC 35-46-8.5-1(c)(1). The Indiana Legislature now added a section that prohibits an individual from “knowingly or intentionally plac[ing] a . . . tracking device on [another] individual or on property owned or used by an individual, without the knowledge or consent of the individual.” IC 35-46-8.5-1(c)(2). So, if someone does this knowingly or intentionally, they are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

However, the crime listed above can be enhanced to a Level 6 Felony if the person who committed the crime has a prior unrelated convicted for: (A) any offense under this code section, (B) a crime of domestic violence under IC 35-38-1-7.7, (C) stalking (IC 35-45-10-5), or (D) invasion of privacy (IC 35-46-1-15.1). IC 35-46-8.5-1(d)(1)(A)-(D). Moreover, this enhancement will occur if the person being tracked is subject to a protective order. IC 35-46-8.5-1(d)(2).

Lastly, this bill created an enhancement that prosecutors can seek for people who use a tracking device to commit an offense or help facilitate the crime. IC 35-50-2-19(a)(1), (2). This additional charge could add between six (6) months to six (6) years to a sentence, depending on whether the offense resulted in serious bodily injury or not. IC 35-50-2-19(c)(1), (2).

Permissible Uses of Tracking Devices

While the Indiana Code now lists a series of criminal uses for tracking devices, Senate Bill 161 was sure to list a series of permissible uses for tracking devices. This is because the Indiana Legislature recognized that there are genuine and legal reasons an individual may want to use one. To begin, it is permissible for a police officer to use a tracking device on private property if the police officer has prior consent from the property owner to place the device. IC 35-46-8.5-1(a)(2)(b).

Additionally, it is permissible to use a tracking device to locate a family member as long as the person placing the tracking device is not “the subject of a protective order obtained by the family member.” IC 35-46-8.5-1(a)(4). If the person placing the device is the subject of a protective order obtained by the family member, then that person is guilty of unlawful surveillance and can be arrested. Moreover, a person may place a tracking device on property “in which the person has ownership or contractual interest unless the person is the subject of a protective order, and the property is likely to be used by the person who obtained the protective order.” IC 35-46-8.5-1(a)(5).


At the end of the day, many new changes came into effect because of Senate Bill 161. Because of this, knowing the permissible uses of tracking devices and what could get you into legal trouble is crucial. If you or someone you know is facing legal repercussions because of Indiana’s new Unlawful Surveillance Law or just want to ensure your use of tracking devices is not prohibited, contact one of McNeelyLaw’s civil or criminal attorneys today.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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