It is illegal to record conversations without consent in Arizona. In particular, the state operates under the “One-Party Consent” law that establishes the necessary requirements to legally record a conversation. Keep reading today's blog post to learn more about the state’s wiretapping law and the penalties for a conviction.
One-Party Consent Law
Arizona implements a one-party consent wiretapping law, which makes it a crime to intercept a wire or electronic communication unless:
- you are one party to the conversation,
- you are present during the conversation, or
- a party consents to it.
This means that you are legally allowed to record a phone call or other conversation if you are a party to the conversation or obtain permission in advance from one of the parties, but you are not allowed to record conversations you are not a part of without the consent of at least one party. Be aware that if you plan on recording a conversation that includes individuals in more than one state, it is important that you follow the state recording law of the other states involved. Alternatively, though, you can seek consent of all the present parties.
Note that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain situations, so you should always seek consent of one or all involved parties in a situation in which an ordinary person would deem private. However, you may be able to record conversations that are held in public places, such as a store or a street, without consent, because the expectation of privacy does not exist.
If you are a third party and require consent from the parties taking part in the conversation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that you may gain consent to record by:
- getting verbal or written consent prior to the recording being made,
- playing a verbal notification before the conversation begins (e.g. “This phone call is being recorded for quality control purposes…”), or
- repeatedly beeping an audible tone at steady intervals during the duration of the conversation to signal an active recording.
Note that there may be scenarios that allow the distribution of wiretapping, namely situations that involve law enforcement and trial evidence. For instance, an attorney can suggest that a client should record a conversation in a legal manner without the participation of the attorney, and as long as the wiretapped conversations do not unlawfully violate another’s rights to privacy, these recordings are admissible pieces of evidence in court.
Penalties for Illegal Wiretapping
Anyone who violates Arizona’s wiretapping law can be charged with a felony punishable by imprisonment and a fine. Depending on the severity of the case, the duration of imprisonment could be between 6 months to 10 years. Violating the state’s hidden camera law is a further felony that carries similar penalties. Be aware that you could also face an additional civil lawsuit for damages from a party that has been injured.
Let an Experienced Yuma Lawyer Defend Your Case
If you have been charged with illegal wiretapping, do not hesitate to contact an attorney immediately. Depending on the severity of the case, you could have a serious lawsuit on your hands with heavy penalties. Let the legal team at Bowman, Smith & Kallen, P.L.L.C. assess the facts of your situation and help you plan next steps in your defense. Whether you feel your charges are exaggerated or wrongfully incriminating, hiring an experienced lawyer will be your most effective defense.
Contact our firm at Bowman, Smith & Kallen, P.L.L.C. in Yuma, AZ to schedule your free consultation today.