Answering Writers’ Questions: Legalities of Recording Conversations
Posted by Writing PIs on January 6, 2010
Today we’re posting some writers’ questions & our answers about recording conversations.
WRITER’S QUESTION: Is it legal to tape your conversation with another person if you don’t make them aware that they are being taped? I believe this is different for different states. Do you know where I might search online to find these regulations?
GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: Here’s an overview of federal and state recording laws: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html
WRITER’S QUESTION: In my story, a cop (not PI) routinely turns on a tape recorder in his pocket when he’s questioning witnesses, but there’s one time in particular that I don’t want him to have to ask permission. I’m not worried about whether it’s admissible in court, but if it’s a big no-no to even do it, I’ll need to change the story at that point.
GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: Unless your cop is asking permission to tape the conversation, he’s playing with eavesdropping (which is a felony). Saying that, cops have certain privileges to work around these things, such as necessity. Keep in mind a D.A. most likely isn’t hot to prosecute a cop for eavesdropping. Our suggestion is to interview a police officer about your story scenario.
As PIs, we don’t record anyone without their permission. Period.
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.