Code of the District of Columbia

§ 23–541. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter —

(1) the term “wire communication” means any communication made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception furnished or operated by any person engaged as a common carrier in providing or operating such facilities;

(2) the term “oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that the communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying the expectation;

(3) the term “intercept” means the aural acquisition of the contents of any wire or oral communication through the use of any intercepting device;

(4) the term “intercepting device” means any electronic, mechanical, or other device or apparatus which can be used to intercept a wire or oral communication other than —

(A) any telephone or telegraph instrument, equipment, or facility, or any component thereof, (i) furnished to the subscriber or user by a communications common carrier in the ordinary course of its business and being used by the subscriber or user in the ordinary course of its business; or (ii) being used by a communications common carrier in the ordinary course of its business, or by an investigative or law enforcement officer in the ordinary course of his duties; or

(B) a hearing aid or similar device being used to correct subnormal hearing to not better than normal;

(5) the term “investigative or law enforcement officer” means any officer of the United States or of the District of Columbia who is empowered by law to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses enumerated in this subchapter, and any attorney authorized by law to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of such offenses;

(6) the term “contents”, when used with respect to any wire or oral communication, includes any information concerning the identity of the parties to the communication or the existence, substance, purport, or meaning of that communication;

(7) the term “judge” means a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, a judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, or a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit;

(8) the term “judge of competent jurisdiction” means, in addition to the judges included in paragraph (7) —

(A) a judge of a United States district court or a United States court of appeals not in the District of Columbia; or

(B) a judge of any court of general criminal jurisdiction of a State who is authorized by a statute of that State to enter orders authorizing interceptions of wire or oral communications;

(9) the term “aggrieved person” means a person who was a party to any intercepted wire or oral communication or a person against whom the interception was directed;

(10) the term “communication common carrier” has the same meaning which is given the term “common carrier” by section 3(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153(h)); and

(11) the term “United States attorney” means the United States attorney for the District of Columbia or any of his assistants designated by him or otherwise designated by law to act in his place for the particular purpose in question.

(12) The term “domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 616, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); June 3, 1997, D.C. Law 11-275, § 14(c), 44 DCR 1408; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 24(a), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-541.

1973 Ed., § 23-541.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-333.07.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-231 added par. (12).