California


It is a crime in California to intercept or eavesdrop upon any confidential communication, including a telephone call or wire communication, without the consent of all parties. Cal. Penal Code §§ 631, 632. It is also a crime to disclose information obtained from eavesdropping. However, an individual can be convicted without disclosing information.  

Eavesdropping upon or recording a conversation, whether by telephone or face-to-face, when a person would reasonably expect their conversation to be confined to the parties present, carries the same penalty as intercepting telephone or wire communications. Conversations that occur at any public gathering where one could expect to be overheard, including any legislative, judicial or executive proceeding open to the public, are not covered by the statute.

A first offense of eavesdropping is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for no more than one year. Subsequent offenses carry a maximum fine of $10,000 and jail sentence of up to one year. Intercepting, recording, and disclosing information each carries a separate penalty.

Anyone injured by a violation of the laws against disclosure of telegraphic or telephonic messages can recover civil damages of $5,000 or three times actual damages, whichever is greater. Cal. Penal Code § 637.2(a). A civil action for invasion of privacy also may be brought against the person who committed the violation. Cal. Penal Code § 637.2.