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MyraB, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 371
Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in criminal law and civil litigation from pre-trial practice to appeal.
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What can I do about secretly recorded audio. Location is CA

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What can I do about secretly recorded audio. Location is California EX-Wife claims she secretly audio recorded a domestic violence in my car. The exact content is unknown, but that is what she claims.  She also secretly recorded video in my relative house on other people. Without going into details about the recorded content, there may be pre-planned setup on the recording. what action can I take against her? Can I ask the judge to force her to delete the content, not to publish the content and inform me who has listened to the audio? What other penalties can be imposed?

Hello and thank you for your question.

As you likely know California's wiretapping law requires that all parties consent to the recording of a confidential conversation. Under Cal. Penal code sec. 632 it is a crime to record any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. The statute may be found here Cal. Penal Code § 632. The penalty for a first offense is a fine of up to $2500.00 or up to one year imprisonment or both. The penalty increases for subsequent offenses. The statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well.

In addition to criminal penalties, a person who violates the statute may be subject to a civil action for damages by an injured party under Cal. Penal Code § 637.2. Under the statute the person who was wrongfully recorded may recover $5000.00 or three times the amount of actual damages. In addition, the person who was wrongfully recorded may be able to seek injunctive relief from the court to obtain the recording and any copies and to prevent publication or dissemination of the contents.

Therefore, you can report the violations of the statute to police for criminal prosecution and/or pursue a civil action against your ex-wife and others involved based on the illegal recordings.

Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. When you say "you can report the violations of the statute to police for criminal prosecution" do you mean go to the local police station and file a report?


My purpose is to prevent publication and distribution of the content. So which method is the best? Civil law suit or file a police report?

Thank you for your response.

Yes, you would go to the police station and file a report. The police would then investigate.

Likely the best way to prevent publication and distribution of the recordings is to obtain an injunction against your ex-wife and those who have copies. An injunction is available in a civil action where a money award would be insufficient to redress the harm and it preserves the status quo during the pendency of the civil action. An explanation and discussion of the procedure for obtaining an injunction can be found here (Please note that this link is to a legal website and is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an endorsement or referral). At the preliminary stage you could request that the recording and any copies be deposited with the court.
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