Nosey or Illegal? When Eavesdropping Becomes a Crime

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 12, 2023 | 0 Comments

New tech is fun, and it seems there's never a shortage of cool and interesting updates that can help us through our day-to-day activities. That said, sometimes, these new tools can get us into trouble. For example, AirPods have a new feature called Live Listen that allows the user to amplify the sounds around them. In a way, this new feature can be used as pseudo hearing aids, but it can also be used to eavesdrop on others.

This begs the question: is it legal to eavesdrop on others using AirPods Live Listen in New Jersey?

New Jersey Wiretapping Laws

In New Jersey, it's not illegal to simply listen to what those around you are saying. That is done involuntarily with the human ear, without the aid of a listening device. On the other hand, if you decide to listen and record what you're hearing someone else say, you could wade into criminal behavior territory.

Wiretapping is both a federal crime and illegal at the state level. Even though it sounds like some elite spy behavior or CIA operation, wiretapping just refers to the recording of a communication. Wiretapping can occur in person or over the phone. Different states handle wiretapping in different ways, but NJ law requires at least one person in the conversation to have consented to the recording. Accordingly, if you're using Live Listen to participate in a conversation with someone else, the recording of that conversation wouldn't qualify as illegal wiretapping in New Jersey. To contrast, you're not allowed to listen in and record two other people communicating without you.

Exceptions to NJ Wiretapping Laws

The biggest exception to NJ wiretapping laws comes in the form of someone's expectation of privacy. It's been held by the state supreme court that the one-party consent rule could be broken when communication occurs in an area where people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, listening and recording individuals having a conversation in their bedroom would constitute wiretapping if neither person consented to the recording. On the other hand, if these same two individuals were having the same conversation in the supermarket, they couldn't claim they had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Of course, the exception to the exception is wiretapping for the purpose of committing a crime, like identity theft or harassment.

Call a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

No one likes to be eavesdropped on, and if you're accused of illegal wiretapping, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand whether you truly violated the law or not. Sometimes those we've angered don't know any better than we do. Before you panic, talk to an experienced defense attorney. Whether you're facing charges or you're just worried, speak with Attorney Joseph D. Lento today. Call the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3683, or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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