October 8, 2008

Wiretapping and Child Support

I read a recent article in the LA Times about attorney Terry Christensen, who represented Kirk Kerkorian in his child support case, and his private investigator, Anthony Pellicano.  They were indicted and found guilty on federal wiretapping charges related to their work on family law cases for celebrity clients.  Prosecutors said that Christensen had the mother’s phones tapped.  In the case, Christensen’s client was seeking child support in the amount of $320,000 per month. 

Client’s ask me all the time about taping conversations and other forms of snooping in the opposing party’s life.  There are legal and illegal methods for doing so.  For instance, taping a phone call between yourself and your ex-wife without her consent is a misdemeanor in Oregon. 

The laws in Oregon regarding wiretapping are as follows:

Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 165.535, 165.540: It is illegal to obtain or divulge a telecommunication or radio communication, unless one is a party or has obtained consent from at least one party to the conversation. It is illegal to obtain or divulge an oral communication unless all parties to the communication are informed that their conversation is being obtained. Certain enumerated exceptions apply. Violations are punishable by a maximum sentence of $5000 or one year in jail.

Or. Rev. Stat. § 165.543: It is also a misdemeanor to intercept a wire or oral communication where one is not a party to the communication, and none of the parties to the communication have consented.

Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. See definition of “oral communication,” Or. Rev. Stat. § 133.721.

The state’s highest court ruled in1996 that interception, without consent of any of the parties, of the radio portion of a cordless telephone call through use of a police “scanner” is illegal under Oregon’s wiretapping laws. Oregon v. Carston, 913 P.2d 709 (Or. 1996).

Using a hidden camera to record another person “in a state of nudity” without consent when the person has a reasonable expectation of personal privacy is a misdemeanor. Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.700.

Before taking any action like this, it is best to consult an attorney to find out whether the evidence you gained would be admissible in court, whether the method of gaining that evidence is legal, and how such behavior could affect your case, either negatively or positively.