You may have seen it in movies where the police listen in on the conversation between two people for the purpose of finding out more information. Usually, they obtain permission from one party to do so. This is called wiretapping.
Arizona has a wiretapping law, which only requires one-party consent. This law makes it a crime to intercept a wire or electronic communication unless you are a party to the conversation, are present during it, or a party consents to it.
In other words, in Arizona you are allowed to record a phone call or other conversation if one of the following applies:
- You are a party to the conversation
- You obtain permission in advance from one of the parties
However, 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 states involved. Alternatively, you can seek consent of all of the parties.
Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
Due to the fact that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain situations, you should seek consent of one or all involved parties in a situation in which an ordinary person would deem private. Alternatively, you may be able to record conversations held in public places, such as a store or a street, without consent, as the same expectation of privacy does not exist.
It may be different when an attorney records a conversation without the consent of all parties, as it may be considered unethical under the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct. If an attorney suggests that a client should record a conversation and he or she does so in a legal manner without the participation of the attorney, this is okay.
Anyone who violates the Arizona wiretapping law can be charged with a felony, which is also punishable by imprisonment and a fine. You may also face a civil lawsuit for damages from a party that has been injured.
Recordings in Court
While recording is banned in juvenile court proceedings, it may be allowed in Arizona state courtrooms under Arizona Supreme Court Rule 122, which allows recording at the discretion of the judge. A judge can limit or bar recording if he or she makes specific on-the-record findings that there is a likelihood of harm arising from one or more of the following factors:
- The impact of coverage on the right of privacy of a party or witness;
- The impact of coverage on the right of any party to a fair trial;
- The impact of coverage on the safety and well-being of any party, juror, or witness;
- The likelihood that the coverage would distract participants or would detract from the dignity of the proceedings;
- The adequacy of physical facilities of the court for coverage;
- The timeliness of the request pursuant to the requirement listed in this rule; and
- Any other factor that affects the fair administration of justice.
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