Feelings that a spouse has been unfaithful can create different levels of emotional distress. For some, the intuitive inkling that an affair is taking place is enough for them to count their losses and move on from the relationship. For others, the distress will not subside until there is concrete proof of the affair. As expressed in other articles, evidence collected by a Private Investigator is much more likely to be admissible at trial because the investigator has gathered information with the assistance of an attorney who knows the law. However, for those who cannot afford Private Investigators, or who do not wish to make the financial commitment, here are some pointers to help you in your own investigation.

Are you Sure I Can’t Record My Spouse?

Both the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act, which are Federal legislative actions, make it illegal to intercept or gain unauthorized access to oral, wire, or electronic communication without consent. Examples of these include illegally gaining access to your spouse’s hardware, email or maybe even their social media accounts. North Carolina law supports the Federal legislation by also making it illegal to acquire access to another person’s computer system, computer programs, or network devices without their distinct authorization. And North Carolina has distinct privacy tort claims that give an injured party rights to sue for intrusion upon seclusion, trespass, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Overall, there are both Federal and State laws that specifically prohibit wiretapping. It’s just not a good idea, and refraining from doing it will save a lot of time, money, and your criminal record. Not only can you be found criminally and civilly liable for these actions, but there is a good possibility that your efforts will be in vain as the judge could rule the illegally obtained evidence inadmissible for your case.

What about a Tape Recorder?

Although tape recorders are often perceived as antiquated and outdated, there are those who will try to use these devices to catch their spouses in adulterous conversations. Do not be one of those people. Tape recorders and voice-activated recorders are illegal unless you have at least one party who has consented to being recorded. For example, in accordance with North Carolina law, only one party needs to consent in order for the recording to take place. Consent means “actual knowledge” that the recording is taking place. So, while you may be restricted from recording your unknowing spouse and his mistress in a steamy conversation, you are free to record any and all conversations that transpire between you and your spouse with or without his/her knowledge. Your knowledge of the recording is all that is necessary in this “One Party consent state.”  The One Party consent rule is extended to conversations between your spouse and your children. Through the legal doctrine called vicarious consent, a parent may record the conversations that transpire between their spouse and their children, but only if there is proof that the parent feared for the safety of his/her children.

Cell Phone Access?

North Carolina’s Title II bans unauthorized access of another person’s computer system, computer programs, or network devices without their distinct authorization. However, upon consultation with your attorney, there may be a way around this law if you have been granted authorization to use your spouse’s cellphone in the past. Authorization is a very complex concept that will be discussed in depth in the email section of this article. However, for purposes of this section, authorization can be as simplistic as giving you the password to their phone. Legally, if your spouse has afforded you a reasonable belief that you are allowed to use his/her phone, you will be covered under the law.  So, for instance, if you just wanted to browse through your spouse’s cell phone, past authorization from your spouse may be enough to grant you access to his/her most personal information.

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