If you illegally access (not given access or share ownership of) anyone’s cell phone, mobile phone, computer, or Smartphone or Apple account in addition to being charged with a crime, you can be sued in civil court.
The New Jersey Constitution provides: “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain natural and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” This provision guarantees individuals the right of privacy. “The right of privacy has been defined as ‘the right of an individual to be protected from any wrongful intrusion into his private life which would outrage or cause mental suffering, shame or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibility.’
As a tort (cause of action/reason to sue), invasion of privacy encompasses “four distinct kinds of invasion of four different interests of the injured party.” These are:
1. intrusion (intrusion on plaintiff’s physical solitude or seclusion, as by invading his or her home, illegally searching, eavesdropping, or prying into personal affairs)
2. public disclosure of private facts (making public private information about plaintiff)
3. placing plaintiff in a false light in the eye of the public (which need not be defamatory, but must be something that would be objectionable to the ordinary reasonable person)
4. Appropriation, for defendant’s benefit, of the plaintiff’s name or likeness
These lawsuits have been filed against ex-spouses and ex-boy/girl friend and can result in large monetary rewards. They include, but are not limited to illegal video surveillance, placing GPS devices in another’s automobile or hacking into a computer or cellular phone account such as Verizon or Apple.
James R. Wronko is a partner with Wronko & Loewen who represents people charged with criminal offenses throughout New Jersey.
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