North Carolina

Key Highlight: Grady case defines EM as a search

Case Studies


  • Kristie Puckett-Williams:"Gender-based violence survivor Kristie Puckett-Williams speaks about EM and the issue of domestic violence."

EM and the Law

One of the most important legal decisions regarding EM took place in 2015: Grady v. North Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court held that attaching a device without consent to a person’s body for the purpose of tracking that individual’s movements constitutes a search as defined under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, the ruling did not pass judgment on whether this search was “illegal.” A number of cases subsequent to Grady have determined that the use of GPS in that case was unreasonable and therefore not legal.


In December 2019 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg chief of police revoked the use of pretrial electronic monitors for anyone charged with homicide. At that time, there were 466 people on pretrial EM, 31 of whom faced “murder” charges. This decision is important because it places a restriction on the notion of “innocent until proven guilty.” It also constitutes an instance where the sheriff, rather than the courts, has the final say over who is placed on EM. However, the use of pretrial EM and pretrial release of individuals has remained a hot point of debate in the county.

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