While most people think of wiretapping as something that the police or other government agencies use to investigate a suspect, private individuals occasionally tap into the phone lines of others for a variety of reasons. Whether the wiretapping was performed for the purpose of gaining confidential information from a rival company, for stalking someone or for gaining an advantage in an upcoming legal dispute, anyone accused of breaking wiretapping laws in California needs to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Wiretapping Laws in California
While wiretapping has traditionally required hooking a device into a phone line, modern wiretapping also involves hijacking wireless cellphone signals in order to listen in on conversations or to read text messages. Under California’s wiretapping laws, only law enforcement officials may tap someone’s phone without their permission -and even then, they must have a court order in order to do so. In fact, it is even illegal to tap your own phone if you do not inform those on the other line that they are being recorded. Wiretapping laws in California even prohibit recording a private phone call without consent unless you are collecting evidence of a serious or violent crime.
Penalties for Wiretapping
Depending on the specifics of a particular wiretapping charge and the defendant’s criminal record, the prosecution might try the crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are charged with misdemeanor wiretapping in California, you can face a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. On the other hand, if you are found guilty of felony wiretapping, you could be sentenced to as long as three years in a state prison. If you have a similar crime on your record, you may even face a minimum fine of $10,000. In many cases, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to charge the crime as a misdemeanor.
Fighting Wiretapping Charges in California
If you have been accused of breaking wiretapping laws in California, or a similar crime such as eavesdropping, insider trading or stalking, contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with attorney Peter M. Liss to discuss how he can help you fight these charges.
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