Unlawful Use of Pen Register or Trap and Trace Device – Texas Penal Code §16.03

In the digital age, privacy is a serious concern, and Texas has enacted a variety of laws to prevent people from accessing information that should be kept private. Using devices that can access information can be a crime even if the information is not used to harm someone.

Texas Penal Code §16.03 is a statute that penalizes this type of offense and it does so at the felony level. This statute makes it unlawful for someone to use a pen register or a trap and trace device without proper authorization.

If you’ve been charged with unlawful use of a pen register or trap and trace device in violation of Texas Penal Code §16.03, you need to acknowledge the severity of this offense and take effective steps to protect yourself with a solid defense. An experienced defense attorney at Barbieri Law can safeguard your rights, prevent you from saying or doing something which could inadvertently work against you, and build the right defense strategy to fight the charges.

What is the Unlawful Use of a Pen Register or Trap and Trace Device?

A pen register is a device that records numbers dialed from a particular phone line, and a trap and trace device captures the numbers of incoming calls. While these devices might sound innocent enough, they can become powerful tools for invasion of privacy and commission of fraud and other crimes.

Section 16.03 of the Texas Penal Code makes it illegal to either install or use a pen register or trap device to record data for the purpose of identifying phone numbers transmitted on a line. Law enforcement officials use these types of devices as investigative tools, but even they must comply with certain restrictions on their use unless a situation involves an immediate life-threatening risk. Pen registers and trap and trace devices are lawful to use and install in certain situations, so often the key to defense for those accused of a violation is for the defense attorney to present evidence showing why installation or use was permissible under the circumstances.

Potential Implications and Penalties in Texas

Texas ensures that the unauthorized use of these devices is met with strict consequences. If someone is found guilty of unlawfully using a pen register or a trap and trace device, they face severe legal repercussions as well as the additional consequences that come along with a felony conviction.

Unlawful use of a pen register or trap and trace device is a state jail felony in Texas. That means those convicted can be sentenced to up two years in jail and required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. The minimum term of imprisonment is six months.

In addition a conviction on your record can make it difficult to obtain employment, living accommodations, and other necessities of life. Records are visible to anyone who does a search, and your life may never be the same. That is why it is crucial to establish an effective defense strategy as quickly as possible.

Building a Defense Against the Charge

Knowing the steps to craft a solid defense can provide clarity and direction. While the legal team at Barbieri law approaches each case individually to take advantages of the best opportunities for defense, here’s a general breakdown of the defense process:

  1. Initial Case Review: A meticulous examination of evidence collection, investigating circumstances, and identifying procedural missteps.
  2. Disproving the Actual Use: Challenge the assertion of device usage with contradicting evidence or witness testimonies.
  3. Questioning the Authorization: Ensure there was proper consent or a valid court order for device use, making unauthorized evidence potentially inadmissible.
  4. Challenging the Validity of Evidence: Examine evidence integrity, focusing on any tampering, mishandling, or improper storage, often using expert testimonies.
  5. Crafting the Narrative: Emphasize the defendant’s character, history, and potential justifying factors to humanize and favorably portray them.

Facing charges of this felony offense doesn’t mean the end of the road. With a dedicated legal team, you can overcome the challenges and work towards a favorable outcome.

Need Assistance with Pen Register or Trap Device Charges in Texas?

Facing accusations related to the unlawful use of pen registers or trap and trace devices can be daunting, but we are ready to help. The dedicated legal team at Barbieri Law will start to work on time-sensitive issues critical to building the strongest defense for your case.

If you or a loved one are facing allegations, quick action can make all the difference. Call Barbieri Law Firm today at 972-424-1902 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our Texas criminal law attorneys.