Arizona lawyers are frequently asked whether it is legal to record a telephone call. Because different states have different laws regarding the legality of making surreptitious recordings, individuals located in the State of Arizona should make sure they are following Arizona law to make sure they are not putting themselves on the wrong side of the law.
As an initial matter, it is important to understand the distinction between recording a conversation that one is involved in themselves versus “bugging,” or recording a conversation between two or more other persons without their knowledge. Recording and bugging are treated totally differently under Arizona law.
First, bugging – or wiretapping – is almost always illegal in Arizona except in cases involving law enforcement where a proper warrant has been obtained. A typical bugging situation involves an individual secretly placing a recording device on a telephone or somewhere else in order to listen to a private conversation. In addition to being illegal itself, the act of placing a bug usually requires some illegal activity such as trespassing,
The typical recording situation is much different. In Arizona, recording is only illegal if no party to the conversation knows about the recording of the conversation. If one party to the conversation, however, knows the conversation is being recorded, it is not illegal to make the recording. Because this is not necessarily true in other states, or pursuant to federal law, individuals taping recordings of conversations occurring across state or national boundaries should consult an attorney to make sure they are not breaking any applicable laws.
Kevin R. Harper is an Arizona real estate and business litigation attorney, representing individuals and small businesses throughout the state of Arizona from his Central Phoenix office located at 1 N. Central Ave., Suite 1130, in downtown Phoenix. Harper Law PLC represents individuals and businesses all over the state of Arizona.