Can a person be charged for putting an app on somebody’s phone the reads text messages and makes recordings with the phone owners knowledge?

I found out somebody I dated had a girlfriend. When I contacted her to advise her to get STD tested, she divulged that she knew about me because she had put apps on his phone that let her read his texts and that she was able to listen in on and recorded our private conversations, and that she had a camera in his residence to spy. I feel completely violated. Can she be charged if I never actually saw/heard the recordings? She informed me multiple times in text messages and offered to let me listen to the recoding, which I declined, because I think she’s crazy and don’t really want to meet her in person. Part of me wants to report this but part of me is worried it would just end in a lot more of my privacy being looked into by law enforcement. This would feel like being victimized all over and possibly not having anything become of it in charges for her if she deleted/erased the recordings and apps.

Asked on July 4, 2017 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Placing such an app on someone's cell phone without their permission has commited a crime. Wiretapping is illegal. Further, tapping a conversation without at least the consnent of 1 of the parties to the conversation is also illegal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If she did not have his permission to read his texts and/or to record or listen in on his conversations, she committed a crime commonly known as "wiretapping" and could potentially be prosecuted; in this event, therefore, you could contact the police to file a report and look to press charges. (Though even if she did not have permission at the time, if he now tries to protect her by claiming she did, or generally does not cooperate in the matter, the case will likely not go anywhere; as a practical matter, his cooperation in the case is critical.)
If he did give her permission, she did nothing legally wrong: one participant in a conversation can legally let another person record it or access/read/etc. his texts. So if he consented to this, while it was creepy and immoral, it is legal, due to his right to let her in on the conversations, etc.

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