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Thread: Is it legal to record a conversation without letting the LEOs know?

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    Is it legal to record a conversation without letting the LEOs know?

    So I was wondering about the privacy laws and recording your conversation, as many here do, when confronted by LEOs.

    I found the following which to me says recording ANY conversation in WA State without prior notification of the other party(s) would be illegal: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states/washington.html

    (It makes an exception for news media based on the fact that it is reasonable for anyone to assume they are recording what is going on)

    So when we make a hidden recording of LEO actions that are harrassment or downright illegal are those recording legal? If they are not I can't see as the would ever be admitted into a court.

    Anyone help clarify this?

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    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    Also, If you do a search in the upper right hand column, you may also find other threads where this has been discussed, along with some suggestions on gear.


    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....Teddy Roosevelt

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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Just to keep the rest of my email private, this is an excerpt from Sheriff Garry E Lucas of Clark County.

    "I have also counseled them regarding the two-party consent law
    and informed them that it is permissible for a citizen to record a
    public officer, while in a public place, when that officer is performing
    a public duty, and that no right to privacy exists in those types of
    situations."

    You don't need to mention anything. Only in PRIVATE conversations. The law says that consent is gained when one party member announces that he or she is recording. If the person does not want to be recorded, they just need to stop talking. If you were at Safeway carrying your gun and an off duty police officer approaches you and tells you can't do what you are doing, then you have engaged in a private conversation I.M.O.

    Joe~

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    Regular Member TechnoWeenie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
    Just to keep the rest of my email private, this is an excerpt from Sheriff Garry E Lucas of Clark County.

    "I have also counseled them regarding the two-party consent law
    and informed them that it is permissible for a citizen to record a
    public officer, while in a public place, when that officer is performing
    a public duty, and that no right to privacy exists in those types of
    situations."

    You don't need to mention anything. Only in PRIVATE conversations. The law says that consent is gained when one party member announces that he or she is recording. If the person does not want to be recorded, they just need to stop talking.
    Correct.

    If you were at Safeway carrying your gun and an off duty police officer approaches you and tells you can't do what you are doing, then you have engaged in a private conversation I.M.O.

    Joe~
    INCORRECT.

    There is no expectation of privacy IN PUBLIC. Now, if he WHISPERED it to you, then they may have a case, but ANYONE is around to hear the conversation, just because no one is doesn't mean it's private. Someone in the next aisle over could hear it.

    private = expectation of privacy.

    There is no expectation of privacy in public, ergo, not a private convo.

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    Campaign Veteran gogodawgs's Avatar
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    Once while OC....

    at the Pierce Co. Courthouse while checking in my firearm I was recording. The conversation was going just fine. I did not say anything until we had finished checking in the weapon. The officer kept chatting and chatting, and at that time I informed him that I was recording the conversation. (I do not believe I was required to inform.) At that point the officer was agitated and asked me to stop, I did not and informed him that in a public place while performing his public duties I was allowed. He then went and told his supervisor on me.

    I was not asked to stop recording. I believe the supervisor knew and understood that I could record.

    I learned my lesson, I will not inform a public employee that I am recording again. (Unless it is in the bathroom or other private area of conversation.)
    Live Free or Die!

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    In areas where this might be "frowned upon" or downright illegal... keep in mind that as long as you keep your recording private there will likely be no issue. But you also have evidence that would likely be allowed in court to contradict false testimony...

    While you might get in trouble for posting on youtube there should be no reason you can't make a private recording for your ears only... and if it comes down to your word against his there is a good chance it would be allowed as a refute.

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    Regular Member Vitaeus's Avatar
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    not a lawyer, but as far as admissible in court, if you are the defendant, a recording, however obtained is generally going to be admissable in a civil/criminal court. If it's family court the judge has more option to exclude or just not listen to it.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoWeenie View Post
    Correct.




    There is no expectation of privacy IN PUBLIC. Now, if he WHISPERED it to you, then they may have a case, but ANYONE is around to hear the conversation, just because no one is doesn't mean it's private. Someone in the next aisle over could hear it.

    private = expectation of privacy.

    There is no expectation of privacy in public, ergo, not a private convo.
    I would feel he still wouldn't have a case of privacy, he's not taking a dump he is not on break, and it's not a private conversation with his family/friends.

    It is a public official engaging the public in the public, to me him whispering doesn't matter in that situation. Maybe he is someone who thinks guns alarm people and he is just whispering to try to not raise alarm (all unnecessary in my opinion but I have had folks do this to me while open carrying), still not private in my opinion.

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    Regular Member TechnoWeenie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    I would feel he still wouldn't have a case of privacy, he's not taking a dump he is not on break, and it's not a private conversation with his family/friends.

    It is a public official engaging the public in the public, to me him whispering doesn't matter in that situation. Maybe he is someone who thinks guns alarm people and he is just whispering to try to not raise alarm (all unnecessary in my opinion but I have had folks do this to me while open carrying), still not private in my opinion.
    You have to look at the totality of the circumstances.

    Whispering infers that he does not wish anyone else to hear it, hence, he wishes whats being said to be private.

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    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    HAHAHAHA, This made me laugh so hard, I nearly fell off my chair...


    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    I would feel he still wouldn't have a case of privacy, he's not taking a dump he is not on break, and it's not a private conversation with his family/friends.

    Maybe he is someone who thinks guns alarm people and he is just whispering to try to not raise alarm (all unnecessary in my opinion but I have had folks do this to me while open carrying), still not private in my opinion.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....Teddy Roosevelt

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoWeenie View Post
    You have to look at the totality of the circumstances.

    Whispering infers that he does not wish anyone else to hear it, hence, he wishes whats being said to be private.
    You could be right, but that is the paradox of the situation in my mind. His wishes and the job he choose to do.

    Personally if I had a recorder I would just record, and if something happened let my attorney deal with it. Because in my mind him whispering is an attempt to subvert my right to record him in public. (of course like you mentioned circumstances could be different, he might be whispering to me that my fly is undone and my junk hanging out)

    I still feel that if it is (at least in his opinion) him doing his job it is public. Whispering to 'put my gun away or I won't like the outcome.'(as an example) His thinking he has the authority because of his position as an LEO to tell me what to do, at that point I would feel that he is a public official, engaging the public and his words no matter at his attempt to make it private are not private.

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    Speaking in a public place, regardless of the volume level of your voice, makes it very difficult to provide for a "reasonable expectation of privacy"

    If an officer expects privacy then he needs to arrest me and speak to me in the privacy of his cruiser or the station house

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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    Whispering to 'put my gun away or I won't like the outcome.'(as an example) His thinking he has the authority because of his position as an LEO to tell me what to do
    Coercion

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daddy4count View Post
    Coercion
    Oh yea I have been a victim of the crime of coercion. Great thing about that crime is you don't actually comply for it to be coercion.

    Same with recording if a police officer tells you he doesn't want to be recorded you can say too bad, he has the choice to walk away or continue allowing you to record him.

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