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Think twice before recording: Florida’s laws on wiretapping

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2021 | Divorce

Thanks to advancements in technology, today’s devices are multi-functional. In addition to being a telephone, camera, planner, translator and radio, many devices also serve as recording devices. As a result, the temptation to record conversations — especially by parties to bitter divorce, child custody and family law cases — is ever present.

Though individuals can record conversations with angry exes or irrational co-parents with the press of a button, they should think twice before doing so. Florida’s laws regarding the interception or recording of oral, wire or electronic communications are strict, and parties who violate them may become subject to criminal charges.

Florida’s two-party consent law

Though electronic communications laws vary from state to state, most generally fall into one of two categories: One-party consent and two-party consent. According to the Digital Law Media Project, Florida takes a two-party consent stance to the recording of phone calls and other oral communications. This means that if one party wishes to record a phone conversation, all parties to it must agree to doing so. The exception to the two-party consent rule is if a conversation take place in a public forum in which neither party has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Illegal recording is a felony

According to Orlando Style Magazine, Florida law considers the undisclosed recording of phone calls and face-to-face meetings illegal. Moreover, it is a crime for any person to use or attempt to use illegal recordings in court proceedings, such as contested divorce cases and child custody battles. If a person violates state law, he or she may be subject to felony charges and up to five years in prison. Depending on the intended use or purpose of a recording, the state may reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.

If a person wishes to record a conversation with an angry ex or co-parent, he or she should announce the intention to do so. If the other person says he or she does not wish to continue speaking or demands that the other party turns the recording device off, the recording party may announce that he or she will not, and that if the conversation continues, it will be recorded. It is up to the other party to decide how to proceed from there.

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