It’s hard to tell in the age of reality entertainment whether affairs have become more commonplace, or if they’ve simply been spotlighted by entertainment hungry news media. From Tiger Woods down to those couples who get caught on the reality show, Cheaters, every newscast seems to bring another infidelity to light. Were sexual indiscretions rampant 30-years ago? Probably; however, they didn’t rank as headline-leading news at the 6 PM hour. The ironic thing about marital – or any – sexual affair is that suspicion of an affair is fine, but gathering solid proof of one often puts the spurned partner on the wrong side of the law. Although morally frowned upon, it’s not illegal to have an affair; however, using some of today’s micro-technology to ferret-out a cheating partner may lead to jail time. When privacy meets infidelity, it’s a slippery slope, and often the ‘innocent victim’ of an affair is often the ‘guilty intruder’ when the law’s involved. Checking credit card receipts, pockets, and written notes or phone numbers is all legit, as is ‘accidentally’ picking up the phone when the significant other is on it, for how can anyone prove it wasn’t an accident?
Electronic snooping, however, is a whole different playing field that’s regulated by both State and Federal Law. The easiest ways to find out usually aren’t legal. What type of activities could land a snooping partner in jail? Using a password to illegally snoop through personal email files. In most states, email is considered private conversation, subject to “reasonable expectations” that what’s written between parties on email is protected, even in the case of a husband and wife.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a spurned Michigan spouse is learning the hard way. The husband is a computer professional, and when signs arose that his wife was cheating, he accessed her email to find evidence. Unfortunately for him, he now faces felony charges that could land him in prison for up to 5 years. Likewise, accessing any private computer account–life Facebook–is illegal.
What’s not okay? Places where we expect privacy: bedrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, hotel rooms, certain office spaces, doctor’s offices, dental offices, etc. It’s illegal to record in these places while outside of them as well: think of the Erin Andrews stalking case; so, it is not legal to record through peepholes, windows, etc.
Some surveillance laws are vague; for instance, tracking devices (GPS) for private citizens. The courts have ruled both ways on this matter although law enforcement officials must obtain permission to track suspects.
It’s not legal to violate a spouses computer, but it is legal for parents to monitor a child’s online activity. Employers can also check employee’s computer interactions.
What about cell phone eavesdropping? Using cell phone eavesdropping software can be, according to FederalCriminalLawyer.us, a Federal felony. “Under Title 18, Section 2511 of the United States Code, it is a felony to record a conversation unless at least one party to the conversation consents. The crime is called eavesdropping, and a person found guilty can be sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined $250,000.”
A private investigator is your best bet.