Generally, it’s against the law to listen in on phone calls in the state of California. While law enforcement officers may sometimes be able to engage in this behavior, private citizens who attempt it can face prosecution under California Penal Code Section 631: Wiretapping.
You can learn more about wiretapping with this article. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can help you review the results of a PC 631 conviction. You’ll even find information about possible legal defenses for wiretapping allegations.
The Legal Definition of Wiretapping in California
The state of California uses PC 631 to define the act of wiretapping. Individuals may face this charge for:
- Intentionally and Without Authorization
- Tapping or Making a Physical, Electronic, Acoustic, Inductive, or Other Connection
- Into a Telegraph or Telephone Cable, Line, Wire, or Instrument
Wiretapping charges can also be brought against individuals for:
- Reading or Attempting to Read or Access
- A Message, Communication, or Report
- Being Transmitted Over a Cable, Line, or Wire
Finally, individuals can be charged under PC 631 if they try to use information gained through illegal wiretapping, or if they employ or work with anyone with the aim of carrying out an act of wiretapping.
Examples of Wiretapping Violations
The following examples can help you learn more about wiretapping in California:
Man A is convinced that his girlfriend is cheating on him, so he sets up a device to record her phone calls around the house. He discovers, instead, that she is selling illicit drugs and reports this to the police. His findings could not be used as evidence because he engaged in illegal wiretapping. Additionally, he could be charged under PC 631.
Man B works for a credit card company. The company records all calls from customers and informs customers of this fact at the beginning of every call. Customers give their consent by continuing the call. Therefore, neither Man B nor his company should be charged with wiretapping in California’s court system.
Charges Connected to Wiretapping in California
Wiretapping involves listening in on conversations carried out across phone wires. This means that listening in on cell-phone conversations or wireless home phone conversations is technically not covered by PC 631. Instead, these acts can be prosecuted under:
- California Penal Code Section 632.5.
- California Penal Code Section 632.6.
All of these acts can be treated as invasions of privacy in the state of California. There are several other charges associated with invading another individual’s privacy. These charges can include:
- California Penal Code Section 632: Eavesdropping.
- California Penal Code Section 647(i): Peeking While Loitering.
Physically entering another person’s property to invade their privacy – or to plant a wiretapping device – could also lead to trespassing charges in Los Angeles.
The Penalties for a Wiretapping Conviction
Wiretapping can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony in the state of California. These two levels of charges can lead to different penalties. Let’s go over their differences right here:
Misdemeanor Wiretapping Penalties:
- Fines of Up to $2,500.
- Jail Time of Up to One Year.
Felony Wiretapping Penalties:
- Fines of Up to $2,500.
- Jail Time of Up to Three Years.
Increased Wiretapping Penalties:
You should be aware that the fines for wiretapping may be increased to up to $10,000 if an individual was convicted on invasion of privacy charges in the past.
The Legal Defenses for Wiretapping Accusations
You can start working on a defense for wiretapping charges right now by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Getting legal help right away can make it easier for your lawyer to build your defense. Depending on your situation, a lawyer could help you by showing:
You Had Consent to Record a Call
Sometimes, individuals want to record a phone call for legitimate reasons. If you acquired the consent of all parties involved in the phone call, you are legally allowed to record the entire conversation. In this situation, you should not be convicted under PC 631.
You Had Authorization to Record a Call
Law enforcement officers can legally request authorization from a judge to carry out wiretapping. In this situation, all authorized officers can listen to and record calls. If you were working in line with authorization from a judge, you should not face PC 631 charges.
Get the Help You Need with Wiretapping Accusations
Learn more about California Penal Code Section 631: Wiretapping with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group. You can contact our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles right now by calling 310-997-4688 or completing our online contact form.
Let us begin working on your defense now, starting with a FREE consultation.