It is not uncommon for a couple going through divorce to consider bugging their partner’s phone. After all, who doesn’t want to catch a piece of incriminating evidence for their divorce case, maybe your spouse is talking to the “other” man or woman and you’d like to use this as fault-based grounds for your divorce. However, you may want to think twice about bugging your spouse’s phone or secretly recording their phone conversations.
Under Virginia law, it is a crime to record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless one of the parties to the communication consents to the recording. Typically, this means that you must be a party to the conversation in order to record any communications and even then, you must be careful not to overstep the law. Every state has different laws for recording conversations. For instance, you may be in Virginia or Washington, D.C., but if the person on the other end of the line is in a different state, that state’s laws may apply.
Virginia law affords every individual an expectation of privacy. This means that the law banning wiretapping pertains to oral communications when the speakers have an “expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectations.” For instance, conversations that occur in a public place or place where others can hear you may not be entitled to protection because there is no expectation of privacy. The determination of whether a conversation is one deserving of privacy depends on the circumstances surrounding the communication.
However, a person who “[i]ntentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept […] any wire, electronic or oral communication” may be found guilty of a Class 6 Felony, punishable by fines and imprisonment.
Similarly, there are also civil remedies for the unlawful interception of communications, such as actual damages, punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees and costs.
For these reasons, while it may seem desirable to tap your spouse’s phone calls or record these conversations, you may want to refrain from doing so. Not only will this evidence be inadmissible in court, you could face criminal and/or civil penalties for doing so. Before recording any conversations in you divorce or family law case, you should speak with your family law attorney. Your attorney can advise you on the legality of recording such conversations, and will be able to obtain useful and admissible evidence for your case that will not land you behind bars.
If you are going through a divorce or any other family law issue, the DiPietro Family Law Group is here to help. Our qualified family lawyers have decades of experience handling all family law matters and will give you the time and attention that you deserve.
Contact the DiPietro family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (888) 530-4374.