Throughout time, some people in relationships have been tempted to spy on their partner to find out whether or not their loved one has been cheating. In the past, that may have meant checking his letters or hiring a private investigator to spy on her, but nowadays, it could be as simple as just picking up that person’s phone and looking at a few apps. Unfortunately for those seeking proof of their partner’s infidelity, San Marcos hacking defense lawyers warn that snooping on someone’s cell phone can actually leave you behind bars in many cases.
Accessing a Phone Without Permission
Under California law, snooping on someone’s cell phone can actually violate the state’s laws against accessing a computer without permission. While the law title specifies computer, even hacking into a server, such as someone’s email or social media account qualifies, as do cell phones. While this crime is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor or even an infraction, it is more likely to be charged as an infraction if the crime was committed for the purpose of spying on a spouse or other romantic partner rather than something more nefarious such as stealing financial information.
This infraction can result in a fine of up to $1,000. As a misdemeanor, this crime can be punished with a sentence of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $5,000. Romantic snooping is unlikely to result in felony charges, but if the a jilted lover did something to destroy or alter the data on her partner’s phone, this is considered to do actual injury, so it may result in felony charges, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Using an App or Malware to Forward Messages or Calls
Sometimes people choose to go beyond simply snooping on someone’s cell phone and actually install an app or malware designed to forward texts, emails, social media messages or phone recordings to their number. These cases may not only involve accessing someone’s computer, but also the state’s wiretapping laws. Like the hacking laws above, this crime can be a felony or misdemeanor, resulting in up to 3 years in prison if charged as a felony and 1 year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor, which is more likely for first-offense crimes involving jilted lovers.
Listening in on a Conversation
It’s worth mentioning that simply overhearing someone’s telephone call would not be illegal unless the call was made in a place someone had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Visually snooping under circumstances where the call is private in location could be an illegal invasion of privacy.
Defenses for These Crimes
The two strongest defenses for these crimes are claiming that you actually had permission to use and look at your partner’s phone or denying that you used the phone at all. Obviously you cannot use both of these defense at the same time and since being proven to lie can harm your case, it is critical anyone accused of snooping on someone’s cell phone contact an Escondido computer crimes attorney as soon as possible.
Remember that what you say can harm your case, especially if you don’t know the full extent of the evidence against you. In many cases though, if your partner gave you his password, or if she doesn’t have any lock screen on her phone, you may be able to argue that you either had permission or that your partner did not expect to maintain privacy on her device. It’s important to recognize though that just because your partner gave you his phone for a moment or gave you his passcode once doesn’t mean that he gave you permission to use the phone however or whenever you wanted, so this defense should not be used without first discussing the matter with your hacking attorney in Fallbrook.
If you have been accused of violating the law by snooping on someone’s cell phone, please call Rancho Bernardo computer crime defense lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.
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