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Thread: Question about voice recorder usage in NH

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    Regular Member Tactical9mm's Avatar
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    Question about voice recorder usage in NH

    I am going to be relocating to New Hampshire within a month or so. I've heard conflicting stories about the legality concerning the use of voice recorders, and I would like to have the record "set straight".

    As we all know, it is prudent to use a voice recorder when we OC. Encounters with law enforcement, or potential self-defense scenarios make this a no-brainer.

    The big question: is this illegal in New Hampshire? Felony wiretapping laws?

    It would seem in most parts of the country where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy that such recording should in fact be okay. Federal law seems to support that assertion.

    So what's the story?

    Thanks for any information on this.

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    Technical legal, but very vaguely written. A bill is going through the house/senate to attempt to correct some of the problems....but currently if you do it against an officer, they'll likely (if they know or think you are recording):

    A) threaten to arrest you
    B) arrest you (charge you with a felony)
    C) file a warrant for you in the future that is a felony warrant for having recorded them.

    Likely charges will get dropped....unless they have a real vendetta against you. Just the question of how much crap you deal with.

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    Regular Member Tactical9mm's Avatar
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    So usage of the recorder is fine if all parties agree to the recording?

    A cop has stopped you for whatever reason. You have to notify him that the encounter is being recorded for the protection of all parties, otherwise they can slam you with a charge that can effectively remove your civil rights for life upon a conviction. That seems to be the short & sweet of it.

    If the cop declines, you have to turn the recorder off.

    Scary stuff, as they would now be free to continue potential illegal abuse without having to worry about evidence being used against them.

    I'm interested in how others that carry in NH handle this type of thing. Are you just not using voice recorders, and hoping things don't go bad?

    Again, thanks for any feedback.

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    Here's the nit-picky part of the law: it's illegal to record an "oral communication". Sounds simple, right? Everyone knows what an "oral communication" is.

    Nope. There is a specific statutory definition of that phrase that takes precedence over the dictionary, and it's RSA 570 A:1 II: "Oral communication'' means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.

    Once they have received notice that audio recording is in progress, they do not have any expectation of privacy. Thus, anything they say is not an "oral communication", so the prohibition against recording does not apply.

    Oh, and in NH it's a misdemeanor of the person recording is party to the conversation. Not a felony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KBCraig View Post
    Oh, and in NH it's a misdemeanor of the person recording is party to the conversation. Not a felony.
    Technically true based on the way the law is "meant" to be used. but so poorly written it tends to be felony charges issued....

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    Quote Originally Posted by doobie View Post
    Technically true based on the way the law is "meant" to be used. but so poorly written it tends to be felony charges issued....
    Yep, they know when they file it that it's bogus, but it puts the person in a jam having a felony charge.

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