B State Requirements for Telephonic Recording – The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating, Third Edition

Appendix

B

State Requirements for Telephonic Recording

Federal law allows any party of a telephonic conversation to record the conversation without notifying other parties participating in the conversation that the recording is taking place. Violators of the federal statute can be imprisoned up to five years and fined $10,000 (Title 18, Sec. 2511 (4)). The federal violation occurs if no parties to the conversation are aware that it is being intercepted or recorded.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia follow the federal precedent. Twelve states insist that all parties to the conversation be made aware that the conversation is being recorded.

Also, different states have some peculiarities that don’t apply to all states. Arizona, for example, may allow the subscriber to the telephone line (the person who pays the bill) to record conversations on that line with no party consent. Some states require that tones or beeps be placed on the line every 15 seconds during recording. If you have questions, check the statutes in your state. Don’t rely solely upon this list, as state laws are subject to change. Keep in mind that the phrase “two-party state” is misleading; the correct term is all-party state because it applies to all parties (not just two individuals) in the conversation.

Search the list to determine what the law allows in your state.

All-Party States  
California  
Connecticut  
Delaware There is confusion between statutes in Delaware. Their wiretapping law specifically allows interception if one party gives his consent. Their privacy law forbids recording unless all parties are notified.
Florida  
Illinois  
Maryland  
Massachusetts  
Michigan Michigan courts have ruled that just one-party consent is necessary, despite a statute requiring all-party consent.
Montana  
Nevada  
New Hampshire  
Pennsylvania  
Washington  

All others not on this list are one-party states.