Suspected Infidelity – Can I Use a Tracking Device on the Spouse’s Vehicle?

Generally, the answer is “no.”  Texas Penal Code Section 16.06, Unlawful Installation of Tracking Device,” makes it an offense to knowingly install an electronic or mechanical tracking device on a motor vehicle owned or leased by another person.

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the person installing the device obtained the “effective consent of the owner or lessee” prior to installation.   So what might that mean if the spouses jointly own the vehicle as community property?  Can a spouse give effective consent knowing the other spouse has primary possession of the vehicle?  That would be risky, especially if the parties have temporary orders in place that give each spouse court-ordered “temporary exclusive possession, use, control and enjoyment” of the motor vehicle that each spouse drives primarily.  It would be difficult to argue that the “other” spouse could give effective consent when the court’s temporary orders prohibit that spouse from exercising any control over the other spouse’s vehicle.

Violation of this section of the Penal Code is a Class A Misdemeanor.  Section 12.21 of the Penal Code establishes that a Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by:

  1. a fine not to exceed $4,000;
  2. confinement in jail not to exceed one year; or
  3. both a fine and confinement.

Talk with a qualified family law and divorce attorney if you have questions on this subject or other means by which a spouse’s suspected infidelity might be established legally.

Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm, PLLC.  The firm provides a spectrum of family law-related services to clients in the greater San Antonio region, across the United States and throughout the world.  The firm specializes in Federal Civil Service and Military Divorce matters.  The firms also provides Wills and Estates and Probate services.