Woman hit with wiretapping charges after secretly recording her arrest

Drinking and standing up for your constitutional rights don't mix.


Tim Sampson

Internet Culture

Published May 12, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 8:05 am CDT

It’s not often that an arrest for drunk and disorderly behavior results in wiretapping charges. But that’s exactly what’s happened in the case of one Massachusetts woman.

Karen Dziewit of Chicopee, Mass., now faces state wiretapping charges for secretly recording police with her smartphone as she was arrested early Sunday morning in Springfield, Mass.

Dziewit was spotted drinking in front of an apartment building shortly before 2 a.m. and police were called to help a security officer at the building deal with the situation. Dziewit was reportedly “screaming and yelling and disturbing tenants of the buildings, and refused to stop her tirade when police asked her to,” according to local news site Mass Live.

Police arrested the 24-year-old, but not before she turned on the audio recording function of her phone and secretly slipped the device into her purse. After being taken to police headquarters, officers conducted a routine search and inventory of her purse, and discovered the phone, which was still recording.

Under Massachusetts law, people are allowed to record police officers in public areas, but only if it is done openly and officers are aware of it. This law was previously tested when a Boston woman was arrested for openly filming police activity, as ArsTechnica points out. But in 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that the arrest violated the woman’s constitutional rights because she had not done the recording in secret.

In addition to unlawful wiretapping, Dziewit was also charged with disorderly conduct and an open container violation when she was arraigned Monday in Springfield District Court. She denied the charges. Her hearing is set for July 8.

Photo by reynermedia/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: May 12, 2014, 4:34 pm CDT