Call today at: (559) 443-7442

Can I Legally Record Conversations With People Without Them Knowing?

Aug 31, 2017 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense

There are many reasons why you may be interested in recording a conversation with other people. You may be a journalist, looking for the inside scoop on a story. You might believe someone has done something wrong and you want to get them admitting their actions on tape. Whatever the reasons for recording a conversation, you should understand the legalities of this action. You are free to ask to record conversations with other people and to do so when they consent. Though, if you record a conversation with others without them knowing or after they have told you no, you could be in trouble. If word gets out that you secretly recorded a conversation, you could also face criminal charges.

If you have been accused of illegally recording a conversation, contact a Fresno criminal defense attorney at Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer. We understand you may not have been aware of the law or might not be the person responsible for the recording. We will thoroughly review the evidence in your case and build the strongest defense possible to protect your rights and freedom. Call us today at (559) 443-7442.

The Rules Surrounding Recording Conversations

There are instances when it is OK to record what is being said or done without other people knowing. The most common example is in public. You are entitled to photograph, film, or audio record what you can easily see and hear in public so long as you are not trespassing, harassing someone, or committing any other crime. However, that does not mean you can use the audio or video you recorded for any purpose. For example, if you want to publish audio or video, you may need the participants’ permission.

Recordings in private spaces are another matter. Typically, you are not allowed to monitor or “bug” a room to record conversations you are not involved in or hack into phone systems to obtain previously recorded conversations. Yet you may or may not be allowed to record conversations you are also a part of. In some states – but not California – if you receive consent from at least one of the parties involved in the conversation, you can record it. However, depending on how you use the recording, you could be liable for a civil suit by the person who was unaware of your recording the conversation and claims to be injured by it. California, however, is known as a two-party consent state. You must have the permission of all parties to a private conversation to record it.

California Law Regarding Illegal Recordings

Under California Penal Code section 632, it is illegal for you to intentionally and without the consent of all parties involved in a confidential communication, use an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop or record the confidential communication, whether or not it was carried out in person or over the phone.

Additionally, Section 632.7 makes it a crime if you, without consent to all parties to the communication, intercept or receive and intentionally record, or assist in interception or reception and the intentional recording of, a communication between two phones, whether cell phones or landlines.

If convicted of either of these offenses, you can be punished with a fine up to $2,500 per violation and sentenced to up to one year in jail or prison. If you have a previous conviction, you can be fined up to $10,000 per violation and imprisoned up to one year.

Contact a Fresno Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you are being wrongly accused of recording a conversation or charged with a crime after believing you could record a conversation, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today. Attorney Michael McKneely will review the allegations and evidence against you to determine the best course of action. Depending on the facts of your situation, he will fight to have the case dismissed or the charges reduced. Additionally, attorney McKneely can discuss plea agreements with the prosecutor and if we move forward with a trial, we will put forth the strongest defense possible and seek to minimize the consequences of a potential conviction.

Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer at (559) 443-7442 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help. We are all being impacted in different ways, but we will all get through this together.Learn More