Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Both Arizona law and the Constitution provide Arizonans with certain basic rights or privacy. The right to privacy is the basic idea that people deserve to be free from unwanted publicity since unreasonable invasions of such privacy can cause harm to the average citizen.

Determining what is a reasonable expectation of privacy hinges on utilizing legal tests that define the scope of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections. Arizona law has clarified what its citizens can reasonably expect to remain private through both statutes and case law in relevant privacy considerations.

What Privacy Can Be Expected for In-Person Conversations?

Arizona law requires consent for the taping of conversations spoken by an individual who has a reasonable and justified expectation that the conversation will not be intercepted in some way.

If the individual does not have such a justified expectation, then consent is not required, according to ARS 13-3001. An example of these tensions can be found in the 1984 Arizona case of State v. Hauss. In the Hauss case, a defendant claimed police officers violated state eavesdropping laws by recording a conversation between himself and his girlfriend without consent. The court held such a claim was without merit since the couple had no reasonable expectation of privacy in a police interrogation room, which is where the conversation occurred.

Hidden Camera Privacy Law

Another central issue involving the reasonable expectation of privacy relates to hidden cameras. ARS 13-3019 stipulates it is against Arizona law for an individual to photograph, videotape or view a person without consent if that person is in a:

  • Restroom
  • Locker Room
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom

Additionally, if a person is undressed or engaged in sexual activity, hidden camera usage is unlawful. The only exception to these rules is when the surveillance is used for security purposes and a notice is posted.

Further, Arizona law prohibits the disclosure or publishing of any photographs, videotapes or recordings that were made in direct violation of the state’s statute on hidden camera law.

Electronic Communication Privacy

The reasonable expectation of electronic communication privacy for Arizonans is covered by ARS 13-3001. This statute stipulates that Arizonans are not allowed to use any device to overhear or record a wire or electronic communication, including cell phone calls, without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.

The one exception to this rule is if the person who is recording is actually a party to the conversation, as indicated in ARS 13-3005. The statute also expressly mentions that “wireless communications” applies to any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence, meaning this provision also applies to texts and email messages sent between wireless devices.

These cell phone privacy laws were recently involved in a 2016 court case, State v. Peoples. This case related to whether police were allowed to search a cell phone without a warrant. The court recognized there is a legitimate expectation of privacy for cell phones, indicating that police need to obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a phone.

The court additionally found that privacy rights are no less worthy of protection even when they are outside of a person’s immediate control. So long as a defendant did not abandon the phone, a defendant’s privacy rights likely indicate that police must obtain a warrant before they are legally authorized to search a cell phone.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Infringing on Privacy Rights

Violating any of the above laws can lead to a range of serious civil and criminal penalties. If you have been accused of a civil or criminal infringement of someone’s reasonable expectation to privacy, talk to a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer.

Similarly, if you have been accused of a crime, police overreach can be used to exclude evidence in your criminal defense case, as evidenced by the aforementioned State v. Peoples decision.

For more information about how reasonable expectation of privacy laws may impact your case, contact Tyler Allen Law, PLLC for a legal consultation.

 

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