Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Wire Interception and Interception of Oral Communications.


§ 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).


§ 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.


§ 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.


§ 23–544. Confiscation of wire or oral communication intercepting devices.

Any intercepting device in the District of Columbia —

(1) possessed;

(2) used;

(3) sold;

(4) distributed; or

(5) manufactured or assembled;

in violation of section 23-542 or 23-543 may be seized and forfeited to the District of Columbia. Insofar as applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, all provisions of law relating to the seizure, summary and judicial forfeiture, and condemnation of property for violation of the customs laws; the disposition of such property; the remission or mitigation of such forfeitures; the compromise of claims; and the award of compensation to informers in respect of such forfeitures shall apply to seizures and forfeitures incurred, or alleged to have been incurred, under the provisions of this title; except that such duties as are imposed upon the customs officer or any other person with respect to the seizure and forfeiture of property under the customs laws shall be performed with respect to seizures and forfeitures of property under this section by such officers, agents or other persons as may be authorized or designated for that purpose by the Mayor, except to the extent that such duties arise from seizures and forfeitures effected by any customs officer. The proceeds from the sale of any property forfeited under this section shall be deposited in the Treasury to the credit of the general fund of the District of Columbia.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 619, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 7(b), 35 DCR 147.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-544.

1973 Ed., § 23-544.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 23–545. Immunity of witnesses. [Repealed]

Repealed.


(Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 931, Pub. L. 91-452, title II, § 252.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-545.


§ 23–546. Applications for authorization or approval of interception of wire or oral communications.

(a) The United States attorney may authorize, in writing, any investigative or law enforcement officer to make application to a court for an order authorizing the interception of wire or oral communications.

(b) The United States attorney may authorize, in writing, any investigative or law enforcement officer to make application to a court for an order of approval of the previous interception of any wire or oral communication, when the contents of such communication —

(1) relate to an offense other than that specified in an order of authorization;

(2) were intercepted in an emergency situation; or

(3) were intercepted in an emergency situation and relate to an offense other than that contemplated at the time the interception was made.

(c) An application for an order of authorization (as provided in subsection (a) of this section) or of approval (as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of this section) may be authorized only when the interception of wire or oral communications may provide or has provided evidence of the commission of or a conspiracy to commit any of the following offenses:

(1) Any of the offenses specified in the Act entitled “An Act to establish a code of law for the District of Columbia”, approved March 3, 1901, and listed in the following table:

Offense: Specified in -
Arson sections 820, 821 (D.C. Code, secs. 22-301, 22-302).
Burglary section 823 (D.C. Code, sec. 22-801).
Destruction of property of value in excess of $1000 section 848 (D.C. Code, sec. 22-303).
Gambling sections 863, 866, 869e (D.C. Code, secs. 22-1701, 22-1705, 22-1713).
Kidnapping section 812 (D.C. Code, sec. 22-2001).
Murder sections 798, 800 (D.C. Code, secs. 22-2101, 22-2103).
Robbery section 810 (D.C. Code, sec. 22-2801).

(2) Bribery as specified in the Act of February 26, 1936 (D.C. Code, sec. 22-704).

(3) Threats as specified in section 1501 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (D.C. Code, secs. 22-5106, 22-1810).

(4) Offenses involving the manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture or distribute controlled substances as specified in sections 401 through 403 of the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981, effective August 5, 1981 (D.C. Code, secs. 48-904.01 through 48-904.03).

(5) Any of the offenses specified in the District of Columbia Theft and White Collar Crimes Act of 1982, and listed in the following table:

Offense: Specified in -
Extortion section 151 [D.C. Code, § 22-3251].
Blackmail section 152 [D.C. Code, § 22-3252].
Bribery section 302 [D.C. Code, § 22-712].
Obstruction of justice section 502 [D.C. Code, § 22-722].
Receiving stolen property of value in excess of $1000 section 132 [D.C. Code, § 22-3232].
Theft of property of value in excess of $1000 section 111 [D.C. Code, § 22-3211].
Trafficking in stolen property section 131 [D.C. Code, § 22-3231].


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 620, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 601(f), 29 DCR 3976; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 7(c), 35 DCR 147; June 3, 2011, D.C. Law 18-377, § 14, 58 DCR 1174.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-546.

1973 Ed., § 23-546.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-547 and § 23-556.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-377, in subsec. (c)(1), substituted “value in excess of $1000” for “value in excess of $200”; and, in subsec. (c)(5), substituted “value in excess of $1000” for “value in excess of $250”.

Cross References

Blackmail, see § 22-3252.

Bribery, see § 22-712.

Extortion, see § 22-3251.

Obstruction of justice, see § 22-722.

Receiving stolen property, see § 22-3232.

Theft, see § 22-3211.

Trafficking in stolen property, see § 22-3231.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 514 of Public Safety Legislation Sixty-Day Layover Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-693, January 18, 2011, 58 DCR 640).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 514 of Public Safety Legislation Sixty-Day Layover Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-45, April 20, 2011, 58 DCR 3701).

References in Text

“Section 1501 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968,” referred to in paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of this section, was codified as § 22-2306 (1981 Ed.). Section 22-2306 (1981 Ed.) was repealed by § 602(mm) of D.C. Law 4-164.

“(Section) 22-1810,” referred to at the end of paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of this section, derived from § 1502 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

The “District of Columbia Theft and White Collar Crimes Act of 1982,” referred to in paragraph (5) of subsection (c) of this section, is D.C. Law 4-164.

Bracketed translations of the references to the District of Columbia Theft and White Collar Crimes Act of 1982 have been inserted in paragraph (5) of subsection (c) of this section for the convenience of the user.

Editor's Notes

Section 7(c) of D.C. Law 7-104 purported to substitute “33-502” for “33-402,” “33-516” for “33-416,” and “33-602” for “33-702” 1981 Ed. in subsection (c)(4), apparently without regard to the amendment of this section by D.C. Law 4-164.


§ 23–547. Procedure for authorization or approval of interception of wire or oral communications.

(a) Each application for an order authorizing or approving the interception of a wire or oral communication shall be made in writing upon oath or affirmation to a judge and shall state the applicant’s authority to make the application. Each application shall include —

(1) the identity of the investigative or law enforcement officer making the application, and the officer authorizing the application;

(2) a full and complete statement of the facts and circumstances relied upon by the applicant to justify his belief that an order should be issued, including (A) details as to the particular offense that has been, is being, or is about to be committed, (B) a particular description of the nature and location of the facilities from which or the place where the communication is to be or was intercepted, (C) a particular description of the type of communications sought to be or which were intercepted, and (D) the identity of the person, if known, who committed, is committing, or is about to commit the offense and whose communications are to be or were intercepted;

(3) a full and complete statement as to whether or not other investigative procedures have been tried and failed or why they reasonably appear or appeared to be unlikely to succeed if tried or to be too dangerous;

(4) a statement of the period of time for which the interception is or was required to be maintained, and if the nature of the investigation is or was such that the authorization for interception should not automatically terminate or should not have automatically terminated when the described type of communication has been or was first obtained, a particular description of facts establishing probable cause to believe that additional communications of the same type will or would occur thereafter;

(5) a full and complete statement of the facts concerning all previous applications, known to the individual authorizing or making the application, made to any judge for authorization to intercept, or for approval of interceptions of, wire or oral communications involving any of the same persons, facilities, or places specified in the application, and the action taken by the judge on each such application; and

(6) where the application is for the extension of an order, a statement setting forth the results thus far obtained from the interception, or a reasonable explanation of the failure to obtain results.

(b) The judge may require the applicant to furnish additional testimony or documentary evidence in support of the application.

(c) Upon application the judge may enter an ex parte order, as requested or as modified, authorizing or approving interception of wire or oral communications within the District of Columbia, if the judge determines on the basis of the facts submitted by the applicant that —

(1) there is or was probable cause for belief that the person whose communication is to be or was interpreted is or was committing, has committed, or is about to commit a particular offense enumerated in section 23-546;

(2) there is or was probable cause for belief that particular communications concerning that offense will or would be obtained through the interception;

(3) normal investigative procedures have or would have been tried and have or had failed or reasonably appear or appeared to be unlikely to succeed if tried or to be too dangerous; and

(4) there is or was probable cause for belief that the facilities from which, or the place where, the wire or oral communications are to be or were intercepted were used, are being used, or are about to be used, in connection with the commission of the offense, or are or were leased to, listed in the name of, or commonly used by the person referred to in paragraph (1).

(d) If the facilities from which a wire communication is to be or was intercepted are or were being used by, are or were about to be used by, or are or were leased to, listed in the name of, or commonly used by, a licensed physician, a licensed attorney, or practicing clergyman, or if the place where an oral communication is to be or was intercepted is or was a place used primarily for habitation by spouses or domestic partners, or primarily by a licensed physician, licensed attorney, or practicing clergyman for his own professional purposes, no order authorizing or approving such interception may be issued unless the court, in addition to the matters provided in subsection (c) of this section, determines that —

(1) such facilities or place are or were being used or are or were about to be used in connection with conspiratorial activities characteristic of organized crime; and

(2) such interceptions will be so conducted as to minimize or eliminate the number of interceptions of privileged wire or oral communications between licensed physicians and patients, licensed attorneys and clients, practicing clergymen and confidants, and spouses or domestic partners.

No otherwise privileged wire or oral communication intercepted in accordance with, or in violation of, the provisions of this subchapter shall lose its privileged character.

(e) Each order authorizing or approving the interception of any wire or oral communication shall specify —

(1) the identity of the person, if known, or otherwise a particular description of the person, if known, whose communications are to be or were intercepted;

(2) the nature and location of the communication facilities as to which, or the place where, authority to intercept or any approval of interception is or was granted;

(3) a particular description of the type of communication sought to be or which was intercepted, and a statement of the particular offense to which it relates;

(4) the identity of the agency authorized to intercept or whose interception is approved, and of the person authorizing the application; and

(5) the period of time during or for which the interception is authorized or approved, including a statement as to whether or not the interception shall automatically terminate when the described communication has been first obtained.

(f) An order authorizing the interception of a wire or oral communication shall, upon request of the applicant, direct that a communication common carrier, landlord, custodian, or other person shall furnish the applicant forthwith all information, facilities, or technical assistance necessary to accomplish the interception unobtrusively and with a minimum of interference with the services that such carrier, landlord, custodian, or person is according the person whose communications are to be intercepted. Any communication common carrier, landlord, custodian, or other person furnishing such facilities or technical assistance shall be compensated therefore by the applicant at the prevailing rates.

(g) No order entered under this section may authorize or approve the interception of any wire or oral communication for any period longer than is necessary to achieve the objective of the authorization, nor in any event longer than thirty days. Extensions of an order may be granted, but only upon application for an extension made in accordance with subsection (a) of this section and the court making the findings required by subsection (c) of this section. The period of extension shall be no longer than the authorizing judge deems necessary to achieve the purposes for which it was granted and in no event for longer than thirty days. Every order and extension thereof shall contain a provision that the authorization to intercept shall be executed as soon as practicable, shall be conducted in such a way as to minimize or eliminate the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception under this subchapter, and must terminate upon attainment of the authorized objective, or in any event in thirty days.

(h) Whenever an order authorizing interception is entered pursuant to this subchapter, the order may require reports to be made to the judge who issued the order showing what progress has been made toward achievement of the authorized objective and the need for continued interception. Reports shall be made at such intervals as the judge may require.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 621, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); May 22, 1998, D.C. Law 12-114, § 3(a), 45 DCR 486; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 24(b), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-547.

1973 Ed., § 23-547.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-551, § 23-555, and § 23-556.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (d), substituted “spouses or domestic partners,” for “a husband and wife” in the lead-in language, and substituted “spouses or domestic partners” for “husbands and wives” in par. (2).


§ 23–548. Additional procedure for approval of interception of wire or oral communications.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, any investigative or law enforcement officer, specially designated by the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, who reasonably determines that —

(1) an emergency situation exists with respect to conspiratorial activities characteristic of organized crime that requires a wire or oral communication to be intercepted before an order authorizing the interception can with due diligence be obtained, and

(2) there are grounds upon which an order could be entered under this subchapter to authorize interception,

may intercept the wire or oral communication if an application for an order approving the interception is initiated in accordance with this section within twelve hours and is completed within seventy-two hours after the interception has occurred, or begins to occur. In the absence of an order, the interception shall immediately terminate when the communication sought is obtained or when the application for the order is denied, whichever is earlier. In the event the application for approval is denied, or in any other case where the interception is terminated without an order having been issued, the contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted shall be treated as having been obtained in violation of this subchapter, and an inventory shall be served as provided for in section 23-550 on the person named in the application.

(b) When an investigative or law enforcement officer, while engaged in intercepting wire or oral communications in the manner authorized by this subchapter, intercepts wire or oral communications relating either to offenses other than those specified in the order of authorization or to offenses other than those offenses for which interception was made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, he shall make an application to a judge as soon as practicable for approval for disclosure and use, in accordance with section 23-553, of the information intercepted.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 623, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-548.

1973 Ed., § 23-548.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-550, § 23-555, and § 23-556.


§ 23–549. Maintenance and custody of records.

(a) The contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted by any means authorized by this subchapter shall, if possible, be recorded on tape or wire or other comparable device. The recording of the contents of any wire or oral communication under this subchapter shall be done in such way as will protect the recording from editing or other alterations. Immediately upon the expiration of the period of the order, or extensions thereof, the recordings shall be made available to the judge issuing the order and sealed under his directions. Custody of the recordings shall be wherever the judge orders. They shall not be destroyed except upon an order of the issuing or denying judge and in any event shall be kept for ten years. Duplicate recordings may be made for use or disclosure pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of section 23-553, for investigations. The presence of the seal provided for by this subsection, or a satisfactory explanation for the absence thereof, shall be a prerequisite for the use or disclosure of the contents of any wire or oral communication or evidence derived therefrom under subsection (b) of section 23-553.

(b) Applications made and orders granted under this subchapter shall be sealed by the judge. Custody of the applications and orders shall be wherever the judge directs. The applications and orders shall be disclosed only upon a showing of good cause before a judge of competent jurisdiction and shall not be destroyed except on order of the issuing or denying judge, and in any event shall be kept for ten years.

(c) Any violation of the provisions of this subsection may be punished as contempt of court.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 624, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-549.

1973 Ed., § 23-549.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-551 and § 23-556.


§ 23–550. Inventory.

Within a reasonable time but not later than ninety days after the filing of an application for an order of approval under section 23-548 which is denied, or the termination of the period of any order or extensions thereof, the issuing or denying judge shall cause to be served, on the persons named in the order or the application, and such other parties to intercepted communications as the judge may determine, in his discretion, are necessary in the interest of justice, an inventory which shall include notice of —

(1) the fact of the entry of the order or the application for an order of approval which was denied;

(2) the date of the entry of the order or the denial of the application for an order of approval;

(3) the period of authorized, approved, or disapproved interception; and

(4) whether during the period wire or oral communications were intercepted.

The judge, upon the filing of a motion, may in his discretion make available to the person or his counsel for inspection such portions of the intercepted communications, applications, and orders as the judge determines to be in the interests of justice. On an ex parte showing of good cause to a judge, the serving of the inventory required by this subsection may be postponed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 624, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-550.

1973 Ed., § 23-550.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-548, § 23-551, and § 23-556.


§ 23–551. Procedure for disclosure and suppression of intercepted wire or oral communications.

(a) The contents of any intercepted wire or oral communication or evidence derived therefrom shall not be received in evidence or otherwise disclosed in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, or other authority of the United States or the District of Columbia unless not less than ten days before the trial, hearing, or proceeding —

(1) the inventory as provided in section 23-550 has been served; and

(2) the parties to the action have been served with a copy of the order and accompanying application under which the interception was authorized or approved.

This ten-day period may be waived by court order where a court finds that it was not possible to furnish the party with the above information ten days before the trial hearing, or proceeding and that the party will not be prejudiced by the delay in receiving the information.

(b) Any aggrieved person in any trial, hearing, or proceeding in or before any court, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, or other authority of the United States or the District of Columbia, may move to suppress the contents of any intercepted wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, on the grounds that —

(1) the communication was unlawfully intercepted;

(2) the order of authorization or approval under which it was intercepted is insufficient on its face;

(3) the interception was not made in conformity with the order of authorization or approval;

(4) service was not made as provided in section 23-547; or

(5) the seal prescribed by section 23-549(a) is not present and there is no satisfactory explanation for its absence.

The motion shall be made before the trial, hearing or proceeding unless there was no opportunity to make the motion or the person was not aware of the grounds of the motion. If the motion is granted, the contents of the intercepted wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, shall be treated as having been obtained in violation of this subchapter and shall not be received in evidence in the trial, hearing, or proceeding. The judge, upon the filing of the motion by the aggrieved person, may in his discretion make available to the aggrieved person or his counsel for inspection such portions of the intercepted communication or evidence derived therefrom as the judge determines to be in the interests of justice.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 624, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); Dec. 7, 1970, 84 Stat. 1390, Pub. L. 91-530, § 2(c).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-551.

1973 Ed., § 23-551.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-552 and § 23-556.


§ 23–552. Government appeals.

In addition to any other right to appeal, the United States or the District of Columbia, as the case may be, shall have the right to appeal from an order granting a motion to suppress made under section 23-551 or from the denial of an application for an order of approval, if the United States or the District of Columbia, as the case may be, shall certify to the judge or other official granting such motion or denying the application that the appeal is not taken for purposes of delay. Appeal shall be taken within thirty days after the date the order was entered and shall be diligently prosecuted.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 625, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-552.

1973 Ed., § 23-552.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-556.


§ 23–553. Authorization for disclosure and use of intercepted wire or oral communications.

(a) Any investigative or law enforcement officer who, by any authorized means and in conformity with this subchapter, has obtained knowledge of the contents of any wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, may disclose or use such contents or evidence to the extent that such disclosure or use is appropriate to the proper performance of his official duties.

(b) Any person who, by any authorized means and in conformity with this subchapter, has obtained knowledge of the contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted in accordance with this subchapter, or other lawful authority, or evidence derived therefrom, may disclose the contents of such communication or evidence while giving testimony under oath or affirmation in any criminal trial, hearing, or proceeding before any grand jury or court.

(c) The contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted in conformity with this subchapter, or evidence derived therefrom, may otherwise be disclosed or used only by court order upon a showing of good cause.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 625, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-553.

1973 Ed., § 23-553.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-548, § 23-549, and § 23-556.


§ 23–554. Authorization for recovery of civil damages.

(a) Any person whose wire or oral communication is intercepted, disclosed, or used in violation of this subchapter shall —

(1) have a civil cause of action against any person who intercepts, discloses, or uses, or procures any other person to intercept, disclose, or use, such communications; and

(2) be entitled to recover from any such person —

(A) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages computed at the rate of $100 a day for each day of violation, or $1,000 whichever is higher;

(B) punitive damages; and

(C) a reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.

(b) Good faith reliance on a court order or legislative authorization shall constitute a complete defense to an action brought under this section or any other law.

(c) As used in this section, the term “person” includes the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia shall not assert any governmental immunity to avoid liability under this section. Judgment against the District of Columbia shall not constitute a bar to action against any other person.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 626, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-554.

1973 Ed., § 23-554.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-556.

Cross References

Return of property by Property Clerk, see § 5-119.06.


§ 23–555. Reports concerning intercepted wire or oral communications.

(a) Within thirty days after the expiration of an order or an extension entered under section 23-547 or 23-548 or the denial of an order of approval, the issuing or denying court shall report to the chief judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals —

(1) that an order or extension was applied for;

(2) the kind of order or extension applied for;

(3) if the order or extension was granted as applied for, was modified, or was denied;

(4) the period of the interceptions authorized by the order, and the number and duration of any extensions of the order;

(5) the offense specified in the order or application, or extension of an order;

(6) the identity of the applying investigative or law enforcement officer, the agency making the application, and the person authorizing the application; and

(7) the character and location of the facilities from which and the place where communications were (and were to be) intercepted.

(b) In January of each year the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia shall report to the Congress of the United States and the chief judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals —

(1) the information required by paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (a) of this section with respect to each application for an order or extension made during the immediately preceding calendar year;

(2) a general description of the interceptions made under such order or extension, including —

(A) the approximate character and frequency of incriminating communications intercepted;

(B) the approximate character and frequency of other communications intercepted;

(C) the approximate number of persons whose communications were intercepted; and

(D) the approximate character, amount, and cost of the manpower and other resources used in the interceptions;

(3) the number of arrests resulting from interceptions made under such order or extension;

(4) the offenses for which the arrests were made;

(5) the number of trials resulting from such interceptions;

(6) the number of motions to suppress made with respect to such interceptions;

(7) the number of motions to suppress granted or denied;

(8) the number of convictions resulting from such interceptions;

(9) the offenses for which the convictions were obtained;

(10) a general assessment of the importance of the interceptions; and

(11) for purposes of comparison, the information required by paragraphs (2) through (10) of this subsection with respect to orders and extensions obtained in other preceding calendar years.

(c) Reports made pursuant to the section shall be made in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Director of the Administration Office of the United States Courts under section 2519(3) of Title 18, United States Code.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 626, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a); June 3, 1997, D.C. Law 11-275, § 14(d), 44 DCR 1408.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-555.

1973 Ed., § 23-555.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-556.


§ 23–556. Relation to Federal law on wire interception and interception of oral communications.

(a) Sections 23-542, 23-543, 23-545 [repealed], 23-553, 23-554, and 23-555 of this subchapter shall be construed to supplement, and not to supersede or otherwise limit, the provisions of chapter 119 of Title 18, United States Code (relating to wire interception and interception of oral communications).

(b) Sections 23-546, 23-547, 23-548, 23-549, 23-550, 23-551, and 23-552 of this subchapter shall be construed not to supersede or otherwise limit the provisions of chapter 119 of Title 18, United States Code, except in cases of irreconcilable conflict.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 627, Pub. L. 91-358, title II, § 210(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-556.

1973 Ed., § 23-556.

References in Text

Section 23-545, referred to in subsection (a) of this section, was repealed by the Act of October 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 931, Pub. L. 91-452, § 252.