Defendants awaiting trial for any assaultive crime could be required to wear or carry a court-ordered GPS device as a condition of bail under legislation approved last week by the House.

House Bill 4127, sponsored by state Rep. Joel Johnson, would place in law an existing court rule that allows judges to consider the GPS option in for all assault crimes.  State law already provides this option for crimes involving domestic violence.

“I’ve been working with local law enforcement and our judges to make the existing law take into consideration the safety of other crime victims since the 2010 tragedy when a 15-year-old girl scheduled to testify on a sexual assault was abducted and killed by her attacker,” said Johnson, R-Clare. “While the rights of the accused are a basic tenet of our legal system, there also has to be equal concern for the people on the other side of the case who could be in danger.”

The bill stipulates that the court can order the defendant to pay or perform community service for the GPS device, as well as paying for optional equipment that would signal if the defendant is within a predetermined distance to the victim.

“I am very pleased that this passed the House with overwhelming support,” said Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis.  “Any time we can arm judges with another tool to ensure the victim’s safety while honoring the rights of the accused during the judicial process; it is a step in the right direction.  While we will never be able to completely prevent a tragedy from happening, we can most certainly take steps to do what we can to protect victims who come forward to report crimes.  This is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Assaultive crime is defined as an offense against a person such as felonious assault; assault with intent to maim, do great bodily harm, or commit murder; assault with intent to rob and steal, either armed or unarmed; certain crimes against a pregnant woman intending to cause a miscarriage or stillbirth, death to the embryo or fetus, or great bodily harm to the embryo or fetus; murder or attempted murder; manslaughter; kidnapping; taking or carrying or enticing away a child under 14 years of age; certain stalking offenses; criminal sexual conduct offenses; carjacking; and terrorism.

In 2010, 15-year-old Taylor Manley was to testify at a preliminary hearing against a 38-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting her but early in the morning, while her father was still at work, the man broke into her father’s home, abducted her, drove her almost 200 miles away, and then killed her before committing suicide.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan and Michigan District Judges Association support the bill, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Johnson can be contacted toll free at 1-855-JOELJ-97 (1-855-563-5597); by email, joeljohnson@house.mi.gov; through his website, www.repjoeljohnson.com; or by mail, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48933.