Code of the District of Columbia

§ 23–542. Interception, disclosure, and use of wire or oral communications prohibited.

(a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this subchapter, any person who in the District of Columbia —

(1) willfully intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire or oral communication;

(2) willfully discloses or endeavors to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire or oral communication; or

(3) willfully uses or endeavors to use the contents of any wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire or oral communication;

shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in [§ 22-3571.01] or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; except that paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection shall not apply to the contents of any wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, that has become common knowledge or public information.

(b) It shall not be unlawful under this section for —

(1) an operator of a switchboard, or an officer, agent, or employee of a communication common carrier, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication, in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendering of his service or to the protection of the rights or property of the carrier of such communication, or to provide information, facilities, or technical assistance to an investigative or law enforcement officer who, under this subchapter, is authorized to intercept a wire or oral communication, but no communication common carrier shall utilize service observing or random monitoring except for mechanical or service quality control checks;

(2) a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire or oral communication, where such person is a party to the communication, or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception; or

(3) a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire or oral communication, where such person is a party to the communication, or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception, unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, any State, or the District of Columbia, or for the purpose of committing any other injurious act.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 617, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 283(a), 60 DCR 2064.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-542.

1973 Ed., § 23-542.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-544 and § 23-556.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 substituted “not more than the amount set forth in [§ 22-3571.01]” for “not more than $10,000” in (a).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 283(a) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.