Kim Kardashian West could be legally charged for her participation in the leak of husband Kanye West‘s now-infamous phone call with Taylor Swift concerning his “Famous” song lyrics about her, an attorney tells PEOPLE.
Gregory G. Brown, Esq. of Irvine-based business, family and trial law firm Brown & Charbonneau, says that while Kardashian West might not have recorded the video, she “does have exposure” for sharing the phone call clip on social media.
“It could be argued that she ‘aided and abetted’ or ‘advised and encouraged’ the crime,” Brown says. “If so, she can be treated as a principle in the case.”
The reality star and her husband “consulted lawyers a while ago about it,” a Kardashian source tells PEOPLE exclusively. “They’re not necessarily expecting to be sued but are aware it’s a possibility.”
Still, “they felt it was important to get the truth out there,” says the source, who adds that the couple never intended to use the footage of the call on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Another insider adds that when calls are recorded on KUWTK, “both parties are aware and sign off.”
In California, it is a felony to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication without the consent of all those involved, Brown said. Multiple sources previously confirmed to PEOPLE that West recorded the call about “Famous” from Los Angeles and that the rapper did not tell Swift at the start of the conversation that he was recording. Swift also wrote on Instagram that the conversation — during which she can be heard approving the controversial lyrics “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex” — was “secretly” recorded.
Under the “two-party consent” penal code, Swift can argue that she had a reasonable expectation that the call would be private. While there were other people in the room — which would negate the expectation of privacy — Brown notes that because it was a phone call, West’s actions were “definitely illegal.” Brown says that “the potential punishment is $2,500 dollars per violation and up to a year in prison.” In addition, West could face civil damages.
Kardashian West is further liable under California’s Penal Code 637 “for willfully disclosing the contents of a private phone call without permission from all parties. This carries up to one year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine,” says Brown.
The reality TV star could also be exposed to an invasion of privacy suit, but could apply the defense that the phone call is newsworthy.
The call was released by Kardashian West to contradict earlier statements Swift made about “Famous,” saying the rapper did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single “Famous” on her Twitter account. Swift has maintained that she was “never made aware of the actual lyrics, ‘I made that bitch famous.'”
In response to the dramatic feud, a source close to West told PEOPLE exclusively, “Once again, Taylor Swift is playing the victim. Shocking! Funny, she didn’t think he was harassing her when she thanked him for being so thoughtful and considerate when he called to get her permission for ‘Famous,’ or for the kind gesture of sending her flowers after she presented him with the MTV Video Vanguard Award. As the recordings reveal, she is a liar and nothing she says will change the truth.”
However, a Swift source insisted that “Kanye has continued to attack Taylor, attempting to incite hatred for her at his live shows and on social media.”