Eavesdropping and Wiretapping Warrants

Under NY Penal Law Article 250, a person commits eavesdropping when he or she engages in unlawful wiretapping, mechanical overhearing, intercepting or accessing of an electron communication. In New York, eavesdropping is a class E Felony.

U.S. citizens have the right to privacy. The four categories of the invasion of privacy include:

  • The intrusion of solitude or private affairs;
  • The public disclosure or dissemination of private, objectionable information;
  • False light publicity, meaning the publication of facts that place a person in false light;
  • The unauthorized appropriation of somebody's name or likeness to obtain benefits.

In some cases, a judge may issue eavesdropping or video surveillance warrants so that law enforcement may investigate a criminal matter. The help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can assist those confronted by eavesdropping charges or a wiring warrant.

Attorney for Wiretapping Warrants in Queens, New York

Law enforcement must first obtain a valid warrant in order to eavesdrop on a private conversation. If you or someone you know has been arrested based on facts discovered in a private conversation, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Criminal convictions can change lives. Law Office has defended clients from all over New York City in a variety of criminal cases. If you have been arrested in Queens County, Bronx County, New York County, or Kings County, Nassau County or Suffolk County, Law Office can assist you.

Call Law Office at to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.

Overview of Eavesdropping & Wiretapping

Eavesdropping Terms under New York Law 

Under NY Penal Law § 250.00 to be guilty of eavesdropping in New York, a person must be found to have been unlawfully engaging in wiretapping, mechanical overhearing of a conversation, or intercepting or accessing of electronic communication.

Wiretapping is defined as the intentional overhearing or recording of a telephonic or telegraphic communication by a person other than the sender or intended receiver. The act of wiretapping may be completed through the usage of any instrument, device or equipment.

Normal operations of a telephone company, should they be pursuant to its tariffs or necessary to protect its rights or property will not be deemed as wiretapping.

On the other hand, the mechanical overhearing of a conversation is defined as the intentional overhearing or recording of a discussion without the consent of on3 or the parties, by a person not present through the use of an instrument or device.

An electronic communication entails a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, data or more through wire, radio, electromagnetic or photo-electronic system. It does not include:

  • Telephonic or telegraphic communication;
  • Communication made through a tone only paging device;
  • Communication made through a tracking device;
  • Communication disseminated through a method or transmission configured so that it is accessible to general public.

Tampering with Private Communications in New York 

Tampering with private communications is also illegal in the state of New York. Under Penal Law § 250.25 a person commits tampering when he or she, knowingly without consent, opens or reads a sealed letter or private communication.

Tampering can also be committed if a person knowingly reads or opens a private communication and then divulges the contents of the communication an outside party.

There are also restrictions involved with employees of telephonic corporations. A person may be charged with tampering if he or she deceives or intimidates an employee of a telephonic corporation in attempts to obtain content of a telephonic communication.

In addition, it is illegal to divulge the contents of a telephonic communication from an employer if never given consent to the information.

When Eavesdropping and Video Surveillance Warrants are Allowed in NY

Under certain circumstances, a judge may grant law enforcement an eavesdropping warrant, which allows the officer to investigate or prosecute the subject of the warrant.

The judge may also allow for video surveillance. An eavesdropping warrant only authorizes the interception of communications up to 30 days from the date it was issued, and must be renewed every 30 days.

Law enforcement has a high burden to meet when applying for an eavesdropping warrant. The warrant application must show that:

  • Probable cause exists to believe that the person scheduled to be monitored is committing, has committed, or will commit a designated offense;
  • Probable cause exists to believe that the communications concerning the offense will be obtained after eavesdropping or video surveillance;
  • Normal investigative procedures have previously been tried ,failed, and are unlikely to succeed;
  • Probable cause to believe that the facilities to be monitored are being used in connection to a designated offense, or at least commonly used by the suspect.

Additional Resources

New York Laws | Article 250 – Visit this New York State Law website to learn the criminal procedure law under Article 250. This webpage highlights all the state statutes involved with offenses against the right to privacy and more.

US Legal | Right to Privacy – US Legal provides visitors convenient legal help. Learn more about the right to privacy in the U.S. and some of the legal definitions involved.

Lawyer for Eavesdropping Charges in Queens County

If you or a loved one needs an attorney for an eavesdropping charge, contact Law Office for experienced legal guidance.

Criminal convictions can change lives, limiting a person's ability to find work or housing. Law Office has fought for clients in the New York City Metropolitan area for years, defending cases in Queens County, Kings, County, New York County, Nassau and Suffolk.

Do not let yourself be convicted without a fight. Call Law Office at to schedule a consultation today.

This article was last updated on November 2, 2018.