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Abuse Using Technology

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Updated: November 17, 2017

Is recording a conversation with another person illegal?

Generally, whether recording a conversation is illegal will depend on your state’s laws. Some states allow recording of telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. Therefore, the law may allow you to consent to the recording when the conversation is between you and someone else. Similarly, if the abuser records a conversation that s/he is a part of, then his/her consent may be sufficient to allow him/her to legally record the conversation. State laws that only require one party to consent to the recording are often called “one-party consent” recording laws.

Other states require that all parties who are a part of the conversation give consent to a recording before recording a conversation is considered legal. These recording laws would apply regardless of which party is recording the conversation. In other words, if you are recording a conversation to gather evidence of threats or abuse, but your state requires that all parties in the conversation consent and the abuser has not consented to the recording, your actions could be illegal.

It can be helpful to know your state’s recording laws to figure out if the abuser did something illegal by recording a conversation. It may also be helpful for you to know whether the law allows you to record a conversation where the abuser threatens or abuses you (if you are trying to keep a record of the abuse). You can check your state’s Crimes page or Statutes page to look for the laws in your state and our Finding a Lawyer page to look for a lawyer who can give you legal advice. You can also consult the Reporters Committee for Freedong of the Press website for state-by-state information on recording laws.