In August of 2018, significant attention was paid in the news to allegations that President Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, had secretly recorded a conversation between the two regarding Stormy Daniels. President Trump appeared surprised when he learned that Cohen had recorded this conversation.
Due to New York’s wiretap laws, attorney Cohen’s decision to record this conversation was likely not illegal. If this case had occurred in Massachusetts, however, Cohen would have been in violation of the state’s wiretap laws.
Because this body of laws involves an important and complicated area of criminal law, it is important to understand some important details about Massachusetts’ wiretap law. If you are charged with one of these offenses, it is wise to quickly obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer.
What is Prohibited Under the State’s Wiretap Law?
There are several types of behavior that are strictly prohibited under Massachusetts’ wiretap law, which include:
Secretly listening to or recording
Any oral communication
With an interceptive device
Without authorization by all parties
In accordance with Massachusetts law, recording a person is still illegal even if the speaker does not have an expectation of privacy and is aware that other people might overhear the conversation. It is also important to understand that “recording” someone can include intercepting text messages by viewing and transcribing them to be used at a later date.
It is also critical to point out that this law only applies if the recording is done in secret, which means that if a person has actual knowledge that the conversation in question is being recorded or there is evidence that the person knew he or she was being recorded but continued speaking, then the recording is not done in secret.
Exceptions to the Wire Tap Act
There are several important exceptions to situations in which the Massachusett’s wire tap act is applied. Some of the exceptions include:
Agents of communications carriers who work at facilities that use the transmission of wire communications
Financial institutions that record phone calls with institutional trading partners as part of the ordinary course of business
Law enforcement officers who obtain warrants to secretly record a conversation
There is currently an ongoing debate about the legality of violating the wiretap law to record conversations a person has with law enforcement officers. It currently remains uncertain, however, exactly how these issues will resolve.
Penalties Associated with the Wiretap Act
The offense of willfully intercepting a person’s communication is classified in the state of Massachusetts as a felony. A person convicted under this body of law faces a maximum of two and a half years in the house of corrections or five years in a state prison.
A person whose rights are violated under this act is also able to initiate a civil suit to recover actual damages, punitive damages which are designed to punish the person who violated the law, and legal fees.
Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are charged with a violation of the Massachusetts wiretap act or any other type of criminal act in the state of Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to begin taking steps to make sure that your criminal case resolves in the best possible manner.