legal news & tips for employees published by Law Office of Eugene Lee
Here’s a question I hear every now and then from clients. The answer is: generally, no, you can not legally tape record conversation with your boss or anyone else without their permission or consent. In other words, you can’t do what the FBI does on TV when they put a wire on a snitch and the snitch then tries to trick an unsuspecting mobster into making a damning confession. Why can the FBI while you can’t? They have a warrant . . . or so they should, anyway.
AN IMPORTANT BUT: if you and other person(s) are having a conversation “in a public gathering or in any legislative, judicial, executive or administrative proceeding open to the public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded”, then tape recording is permitted, even without the knowledge or permission of the other participants in the conversation.
California Penal Code sections 631 and California Penal Code sections 632 make it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or 1 year in state prison. Also, any illegal tape recording you make can not be used as evidence in a court of law. I have heard of instances where illegal tape recordings were used in court to impeach, i.e., to show someone is lying or saying something contradictory, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.
For all you wanted to know about tape recording someone, go to “Can We Tape?: A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.” Here is their website.