What is eavesdropping? The elements of eavesdropping is not as simple as it seems. If a person walks into the bathroom while you were using it and started to talk to someone else. Although you may be listening in onto someone’s conversation, you did not actually commit a crime. This is because eavesdropping has to be fulfilled by 4 conditions. 1. The eavesdropping has to be intentional and not accidental like in the case above. 2. it needs to happen without the permission of the parties in order for you listen. If just one side allows you but the other does not, it is still eavesdropping. 3. the conversation itself needs to be private, this can be shown by one party reasonably showing that they do not want anyone else to listen. 4. the act of eavesdropping used an electronic sound amplifier, or recording device to either hear it or record it. However today people can have a lot of their conversations confidentially through cell phone calls. If you intercept a cell phone call, you face the same penalty for eavesdropping.
The crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor has the choice and can depends on the facts of the case and your criminal history. As a misdemeanor you can see up to a year in jail with up to a $2,500 fine. As a felony you can see up to 3 years in prison and the same fine. Its important to know although you may have eavesdropped for good purposes you cannot use any of the evidence since the way you obtained the recordings is illegal. I.E. if you planted a recording device in your room to expose your roommate for selling narcotics. Also, you may find yourself paying civil damages to the person you listened into. If the person claims that they suffered damages because of you, they can sue you for up to 3 times the amount of damage or $5,000 whatever is greater. However if they didn’t suffer damages they can still sue you for the $5,000.
If you were charged with this crime. Come see an attorney, there is always an option.