March 31, 2016

Spousal Spying in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

If you are contemplating divorce, you may be of the mind that would should engage in a course of spousal spying. If that is what you are considering, you most definitely are not alone. The reality is that many individuals facing problems in their marriages, or the prospect of divorce, engage in spousal spying. The reality is that taking this course of action can be problematic and even illegal in some cases.

Spousal Spying: Telephone Interception

One area in which individuals engage in spousal spying involves telephone communications. You may be thinking about the possibility of recording or otherwise intercepting telephone communications in order to collect evidence for a divorce proceeding.

The reality is that telephone call interception generally is illegal in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you engage in this type of activity, even when your own spouse is the target, you can be charged with a Class C felony.

Exceptions to Telephone Interception Prohibition

There are three primary exceptions to the prohibition against intercepting phone calls in Pennsylvania, including when such an interception involves spousal spying. First, this type of interception may be considered appropriate if it involves collecting information about a crime of violence. In other words, the interception may be deemed legally permissible if targeted communication involves a crime of violence. This includes a crime of violence previously committed or one that appears to be in the planning stages.

The second exception involves telephone calls and similar communications to emergency services. Finally, an exception exists if both or all parties to the transmission agree to it being intercepted and recorded.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

In order for the prohibition against interception to be at issue, the spouse involved in the communication must have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if your spouse is yelling into a phone for all around to hear, he or she would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if your spouse were whispering in another room, that individual would indeed have a reasonable expectation of privacy.