Many people believe that they have the right to record their conversations when talking with someone in person or over the phone. In Florida, however, it can be a felony.
With modern technology it is very easy and tempting to record a conversation either in person or over the phone. Just because modern technology makes the recording easy, it does not make the recording legal in the state of Florida. The interception of any oral, wire or electronic communication without the knowledge of all parties to the conversation, is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The terminology used in the Statute is more complicated and technical but the meaning is clear. Even a face-to-face conversation cannot be recorded without all parties knowing of the recording.
We are all familiar with commercial phone calls which begin with a statement that the call may be recorded for quality control or customer service reasons. This announcement gives notice to the parties that a recording may be made and complies with Florida law. If you wish to record a conversation you simply must advise the parties to the conversation that you are doing so.
Using the terminology as it is written in the Statute, Florida law not only makes the interception of an oral or wire communication illegal, but also makes it a felony to endeavor to intercept a wire or oral communication. In addition, the law makes it a felony to use, or even attempt to use, an illegally recorded conversation for any purpose. Causing another person, by whatever means, to illegally record a conversation is against the law. It is also a felony to disclose the contents of a conversation obtained through an illegal recording.
Florida law prohibits any illegally recorded communications from being used in a court proceeding or by any agency or officer of the State. Law enforcement may, however, authorize a person to record a conversation without notifying the parties of the recording.
Before recording a conversation, you should consider your actions carefully. If you believe it is important that the conversation be recorded, I suggest you announce at the beginning of the conversation while the recording device is on, that you are recording the conversation. The other person may say that they do not want to speak with you or that you need to turn off the recording. My suggestion, in that instance, is that you clearly announce that you will not turn off the recording and if there’s going to be any conversation, it will be recorded.
The only time that an illegal recording is admissible in court is when the state prosecutes a person for making or using the illegal recording. Recording a conversation without notice has serious consequences. In fact, it is a serious crime.
Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
17 East Pine St.
Orlando, FL 32801