Can legal dependents (children over 18) legally audio or video record verbal or physical abuse inside their own home? For purposes of proof in litigation or simply mediation/arbitration?
Pennsylvania is in a minority of states that make it illegal to audio-record someone without their consent. There is an exception for victims who are "under a reasonable suspicion" that the person they are recording "is committing, about to commit or has committed a crime of violence and there is reason to believe that evidence of the crime of violence may be obtained from the" recording. The term "crime of violence" is defined by the law to include: (1) Murder, (2) Voluntary Manslaughter, (3) Drug Delivery Resulting in Death, (4) Aggravated Assault, (5) Kidnapping, (6) Rape, (7) Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, (8) Sexual Assault (9) Aggravated Indecent Assault, (10) Incest (11) Arson (12) Burglary (13) Robbery and (14) Robbery of a Motor Vehicle.
You asked if a legal dependent could record "physical abuse." The answer depends on whether the "physical abuse" falls into one of the fourteen "crimes of violence" described above. If not, then audio-recording the abuse is a crime, and the recording itself is not admissible for any purpose; if so, then the audio-recording is permissible, and may be introduced if relevant and authentic.
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