When is Eavesdropping a crime?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 30, 2015 | 1 Comment

As a former prosecutor and now criminal defense lawyer, people ask me all the time, what is eavesdropping? Or when is eavesdropping illegal? And the legal definition of eavesdropping here in California is when you listen in on a private conversation without the knowledge or consent of the parties and you use either a recording device to record the conversation or an amplifying device to help you hear the conversation.

Now, I'll give you an example. Suppose you're in the bathroom stall at work, and two co-workers come in and they start talking about some confidential matter. They don't realize you're in the bathroom stall, and you just quietly overhear their conversation. That is not eavesdropping. That's at least not illegal eavesdropping as the law defines it because you're not using any sort of device to amplify or record the conversation.

But suppose you take out your iPhone and you decide, I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity. I'm going to record what they're saying. And you record their conversation. Then it becomes eavesdropping, and that would be illegal.

Eavesdropping laws in California can be found in Penal Code 632. 

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


Vivett bromfield Reply

Posted Jun 16, 2015 at 17:18:18

Your one of the good guys. Such good lawyers! Thank you Viv

Leave a Comment

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370