Code of the District of Columbia

§ 23–543. Possession, sale, distribution, manufacture, assembly, and advertising of wire or oral communication intercepting devices prohibited.

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

(1) willfully possesses, sells, distributes, manufactures, or assembles an intercepting device, the design of which renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of a wire or oral communication; or

(2) willfully places in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication any advertisement of —

(A) any intercepting device, the design of which renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of a wire or oral communication; or

(B) any intercepting device where such advertisement promotes the use of such device for the purpose of the surreptitious 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.

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

(1) a communication common carrier or an officer, agent, or employee of, or a person under contract with a communication common carrier, in the usual course of the communication common carrier’s business; or

(2) a person under contract with the Government of the United States, a State or a political subdivision thereof, or the District of Columbia, or an officer, agent, or employee of the Government of the United States, a State or a political subdivision thereof, or the District of Columbia;

to possess, sell, distribute, manufacture or assemble, or advertise any intercepting device, while acting in furtherance of the appropriate activities of the United States, a State or political subdivision thereof, the District of Columbia, or a communication common carrier.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 618, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 283(b), 60 DCR 2064.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-543.

1973 Ed., § 23-543.

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(b) 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.