Skip to main content

Can you use tape recording as evidence in court if the other party doesnt know they're being recorded?

Charlotte, NC |

I bought a tape recorder from bestbuy and I have very valuable information that will be helpful in my friends case. Will the Judge allow the recording to be heard iin court? I know NC is a one party state but Im still unsure. Thanks

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


First, NC is a one-party state. However, if the other party (the unaware party) was in a two-party state when the phone call was recorded, then the two-party rule applies, so it may have been a criminal act to record the conversation without both parties' consent if one of the parties was in a two-party state.

Second, whether the call is admitted into evidence is a separate question from whether the evidence was legally obtained (although the two questions may be connected.) You'd need someone to authenticate the recording - meaning the party who recorded it would have to testify that it was a true an accurate recording. That person would be subject to impeachment by opposing counsel, basically asking whether the recording had been altered to help your friend out.

Third, there are discovery requirements if it's a felony in NC. If the defense or defendant has evidence he wishes to use at trial, he will be obligated to provide it to the prosecution prior to trial. If he doesn't, a judge may bar its admission. So you need to let your friends attorney know you have it so your friend's attorney can make sure all discovery obligations are complied with.

<a href="">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> Damon Chetson represents people in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, and the rest of Wake County, North Carolina. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the specific facts may change the potential advice. Consult with a licensed <a href="">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> or attorney in your jurisdiction about your legal question or problem. For a free consultation about a North Carolina case, call (919) 352-9411 day or night, any day of the week.


Does your friend have an attorney? If he does, you should give the recording to hir or her attorney and let him review it. If not, he should consult with one.The admissibility of a recording of a conversation outside of court will depend on a number of factors such as whether the recording was legally obtained, the nature of the case, and whether the recording is hearsay or falls within one of the exceptions to hearsay under the Rules of Evidence.

The information in this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


And as a slight follow on to my colleague's excellent answer, recordings obtained without knowledge or consent might be considered to be obtained illegally, although that issue is determined normally by application of state law (where I'll happily defer to my NC colleague). As a general matter, recordings obtained without permission in most other jurisdictions cannot be introduced as evidence except in narrow circumstances (e,g, in some incidents to directly rebut false witness testimony).

Andrew Thomas Nettleman

Andrew Thomas Nettleman


NC is a one party knowledge state, but, as we have both said, the analysis goes well beyond that.

Scott Michael Swafford

Scott Michael Swafford


Thanks Andrew - I like discussing generalities, but try to always make the point that a local attorney always knows best. I probably should have thrown in the issue of recordings in a public place and reasonable expectation of privacy as well, but thought it best to just leave things as they were. Cheers, Scott

Criminal defense topics

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer