Marriage and spouses’ privacy: a commentary
According to the Italian Cassation Court, the husband that violently deprives the wife of her cell phone commits an offence.
In the context of the sentence N. 8821/2021, the Italian Court of Cassation has confirmed the direction about certain illegitimate behaviours against individuals’ privacy in the context of marriage. In such case, the husband who appropriates of wife’s phone with the purpose of discovering proofs about her infidelity is committing the offence of inappropriate intrusion into privacy of others. Such landmark decision confirms that the marital relationship or cohabitation do not justify the intrusion into personal privacy.
The defendant appealed the decision of the Court of appeal by stating the following argument:
– The Court only recognised wife’s right to confidentiality and privacy and it did not recognise husband’s right to look for proof of infidelity. In fact, fidelity is one of the paramount pillar of marriage and spouses have the right to investigate whether or not infidelity might be compromised;
– There was no violence in the appropriation of the wife’s phone.
In relation to the first point, the Court confirmed again the established case law on privacy matters. In fact, the illegitimate appropriation of wife’s phone triggers the offence of the intrusion into privacy of others. In fact, individuals’ privacy sphere does not allow any type of intrusion from anybody.
In relation to the second point, the Court of Cassation has confirmed that defendant’s conduct falls within the robbery offence, rather than the simple theft. In fact, the physical appropriation of the cell phone occurred by using violence toward the wife. In this sense, the Court also recognised the unfair advantage of such conduct. Specifically, through the appropriation of wife’s phone the husband achieved the unfair advantage of the intrusion into somebody else privacy sphere.
Based on previous arguments, husband’s conduct constitute a criminal offence that caused also the inappropriate intrusion into privacy of others