Recording Communications

Is it illegal to secretly record conversations?  Yes and No!

The facts and circumstances and your state’s law dictate whether recording telephone communications is legal. In Arizona, it is a Class 5 felony to intentionally intercept an electronic communication to which you are not a party without the consent of either a sender or receiver of the electronic communication. A.R.S. 13-3005(A)(1). It is also illegal to aid, authorize, employ, procure or permit another to intercept an electronic communication without the consent of either a sender or receiver. A.R.S. 13-3005(A)(1). This means that you can secretly record your telephone calls with others. You cannot, however, record or have recorded telephone calls to which you are not a party without first getting the consent of one of the parties to the telephone call. In other words, you cannot use an electronic device to record all telephone calls made by your spouse, business partner or other person unless at least one party to each individual telephone call agrees.

In Arizona, it is also a Class 5 felony to intentionally intercept conversations or discussions at which you are not present without the consent of at least one of the parties to the conversation or discussion. A.R.S. 13-3005(A)(2).  Likewise, it is illegal to aid, authorize, employ, procure or permit another to do so without the consent of a party to the conversation or discussion. A.R.S. 13-3005(A)(2). In laymen’s terms, you can secretly record your conversations and discussions with others. You cannot, however, use any means to intercept or record the conversations or discussions of others without first obtaining the consent of at least one party to the conversation or discussion. Arizona and federal law are consistent so provided you are a party and/or one party gives consent to the interception, it is legal. 18 U.S.C. 2511.

As a general rule of thumb, it is legal for you to record telephone calls, conversations and discussions in Arizona if:

  • You are a party to the telephone call, conversation or discussion; or
  • If you are not a party to the telephone call, conversation or discussion, one of the parties consented in advance to the recording; and
  • All parties to the telephone call, conversation or discussion are in Arizona.

If you intend to use or are using a device to capture telephone calls, conversations, and/or discussions that you are not a party to and you do not have the consent of any of the parties, you are exposing yourself to criminal penalties and should consult an attorney before doing so. Because the law differs from state to state, you should also consult an attorney before recording any of your telephone calls, conversations or discussions that take place outside of Arizona or where one or more of the parties is not in Arizona.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: If you are a party to a dispute, you should always assume that the other party has done the same research and is recording their communications with you. It does not matter if you are involved in a family law dispute or a commercial dispute, you should always watch what you say and how you say it. For more information, contact Phoenix, Arizona attorney Bryan James Blehm.