Break-ups can range from mutual and peaceful to messy and revengeful, resulting in unhinged behavior. Although the term "crazy ex-girlfriend" is often thrown around as a joke to reference exes who make petty comments or kick you off their Netflix account, some exes can take their revenge and paranoia to extremely unhealthy lengths. For instance, Page Six covered a story in the summer of 2023 about a former reality star who claimed that her ex-fiancé hired a private investigator to pose as one of her therapy clients. Although the star sought a restraining order from her ex-fiancé, sources claimed she had no basis for the request and was simply trying to "stay relevant" in the media. Messy.
Although stories involving celebrities or other well-known figures gather media attention, spying on exes may be more common than not. In fact, in February 2020, USA Today reported, "One in 10 Americans admitted to using an app to monitor an ex or current partner's text messages, phone calls, direct messages, emails, and photos…" But what rights do you have to stop this type of behavior, and what steps can you take if your ex has gone as far as hiring a private investigator to track your every move?
Your Right to Privacy
In New Jersey, individuals have a common law right to privacy. This means that you have a reasonable expectation to be free from stalking and unwarranted and intrusive surveillance or tracking by others, including private investigators. Your ex's decision to hire a private investigator to track you may infringe upon your right to privacy. If the stalking behavior escalates or involves additional criminal activities, such as harassment or assault, the spouse who hired the private investigator may also face criminal charges related to those actions.
Steps to Take if You Think You Are Being Watched or Followed
Keep a detailed record of any incidents related to the private investigator's activities, including dates, times, locations, and any witnesses present. For instance, if you think a car is following you, try to capture a photo of the vehicle or write down its license plate. This documentation can be helpful when reporting the situation to law enforcement or seeking a restraining order.
Contact Law Enforcement
Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the stalking and provide them with the evidence you have gathered. Stalking is a criminal offense in New Jersey, and law enforcement can investigate the matter. Records such as police reports can also be helpful when seeking a restraining order because they demonstrate a genuine belief that you were being unlawfully watched or followed.
In New Jersey, you may be eligible for a restraining order if you can demonstrate that your ex's actions, including hiring a private investigator to track you, have caused you to fear for your safety or have caused you harm. A restraining order can prohibit your ex from contacting, stalking, or harassing you, and it may include other provisions for your protection.
Contact Us for Help Today
Being stalked by an ex through a private investigator is a very serious matter. Contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team today for help finding your voice, gathering your evidence, and securing a PFA on your help. We are here to help and listen. Reach us today by calling (888) 535-3686 or by using our online contact form.