Hat tip to Pierre Grosdiddier at Haynes and Boone for the article in the June Texas Bar Journal entitled Privacy Matters. He poses the question as to whether putting a tracking device on a car or rummaging through your spouse’s cellphone are “no-no’s”. Texas Penal Code 16.06 prohibits tracking a vehicle owned by another person. But what happens if a car is jointly owned community property? A Harris County district judge recently refused to apply Penal Code 16.06 to a situation where the car was jointly owned community property, finding no violation under the law for putting a tracking device on a car titled in both names because it is a jointly managed community asset. Of course, this begs the question, what happens if the car is in one spouse’s name but purchased during the marriage and therefore a special management community asset?

On the other hand, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that a spouse was entitled to privacy in his or her cellphone, even if the cellphone is presumptively community property. The Dallas Court relied on factors such as the similarity between a smartphone and a computer under the wiretap laws, the expectation of privacy by a spouse in the phone, the exclusivity of use of the phone by the spouse, and the password protecting of the phone. Thus, information obtained from the phone was illegal and could not be used in court.

Check out the video from the State Bar of Texas here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvcxJcrFg4A&feature=youtu.be 

And check out the article in the Texas Bar Journal here: https://editions.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=499958#{%22issue_id%22:499958,%22page%22:14}