Spousal Spying in New Jersey
If you believe your spouse might be unfaithful, it is natural to want to uncover the truth. For some people, this leads them to try and find evidence of infidelity. In New Jersey, there are serious consequences that can come with surveilling or spying on your spouse.
Spying on your spouse by any means could be illegal. In addition to the potential for criminal charges, these actions could hurt a pending divorce or custody case. Before you act on your desire to surveil your spouse, talk to a family law attorney about the dangers of spousal spying in New Jersey.
Electronic Surveillance and Wiretapping Laws
Intercepting a spouse’s emails or otherwise spying on them through electronic means could be illegal. In addition to possible criminal consequences, anything found through illegal surveillance could be barred from being admitted as evidence during a divorce proceeding.
Federal law explicitly prevents bypassing passwords to electronically surveil another person. This is true for both credentials used to access a device as well as log-in information for email and other methods of communication.
Exceptions for Shared Devices
While there are limitations on what a spouse can access, New Jersey courts have found that these laws do not apply to documents or electronic communications found in areas or devices shared by the couple. For example, courts have found that emails stored in an easily accessible folder on a couple’s shared computer are not protected by these laws, and accessing these documents is not unlawful.
Courts have allowed this type of evidence into divorce proceedings, holding that the spouse that stored the emails in a place where the other spouse could easily access them had no expectation of privacy. This discussion could be very different if the emails were stored on a work computer or otherwise password-protected, as this could be considered illegal.
Video and Other Surveillance
Video surveillance of a spouse could violate state and federal privacy laws, especially when this surveillance occurs on private property. However, courts have found the use of surveillance cameras in the marital home to be legal. This is because a spouse has no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the person they share their home with.
A spying spouse may also use global positioning or “GPS” devices. GPS devices can be affixed to a motor vehicle and used to track a spouse’s movement. These efforts could provide useful information on where a spouse is going and whom they are spending time with.
Whether or not using a GPS on a spouse’s car is illegal depends on the circumstances. Courts have held that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle shared by a couple is legal, given that the surveilled spouse has no reasonable expectation of privacy in a shared car. Using a GPS on someone else’s vehicle or within private property might not be legal. A knowledgeable attorney can provide insight into which actions of a spying spouse may be considered illegal under NJ law.
Talk to an Attorney About Spousal Spying in New Jersey
While there can be serious consequences with some forms of spousal spying, other types of surveillance are legal under state law. Efforts to surveil a spouse could provide significant evidence in divorce proceedings.
To discuss spousal spying in New Jersey with a legal professional, call our office today. The seasoned attorneys at Moskowitz Law Group can assess your situation and advise you on your legal options.