Can news show recorded telephone conversations? If so how should they be obtained?
5 attorney answers
I agree with my colleagues that California is a two-party consent state, meaning both (or really all parties) have to agree to be recorded. If they do not, then it is a minor crime, and it generally makes the recording inadmissible. Now this does not mean someone couldn't leak a recording to the news, the news have broad privileges in freedom of the press, and you get into some murky areas.
Practically, while consent is required that is only where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, when you get a call from any telemarketer or bill collector, they usually have some canned spiel at the start of the call saying that the line is being recorded "for quality purposes." By not hanging up or refusing the recording, you are consenting to it. Leaving a voicemail is a form of consent too, since you know it will be recorded. Also a number of other states do not require consent, so where, when, and how the recording was made makes a big difference.
What the California law is aimed at are surreptitious (secret) recordings. If you have made some, and you are thinking of trying to get them into the press, know that besides the criminal aspect mentioned by by colleagues, there are also civil consequences that can include defamation torts, but also species of invasion of privacy, like false light, or publication of private facts, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Now if you want to take notes of a conversation you had with someone, and then share your notes, recollections, and opinions with media. That is fine. Whether they care is an entirely different story.
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Agreeing with counsel, I would also add that if there is a lawsuit you can ask for the recordings in discovery such as document requests.
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Although your question is quite vague. California has a two-party consent law, which makes it a felony to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication - namely, a phone call - without the consent of all those involved.
Because the parties likely had a reasonable expectation that the call would private, this would probably amount to a violation of California law.
Criminally speaking, it is considered a crime with the potential punishment of $2,500 dollars per violation and up to a year in prison.
Civilly speaking, a person who has had their reasonable expectation of privacy violated in this matter may be entitled to $3,000 or three times the actual damages. Additionally, so long as the persons within the telephone conversation believed their conversation to be private, they may also have a claim for invasion of privacy.
Notwithstanding, your question simply does not have enough information to analyze this issue properly. For instance, has a lawsuit been filed? This would change the circumstances quite a bit on obtaining said recording properly.
This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. The laws are somewhat different in every state. You should rely only on advice given to you during a personal consultation by a qualified and licensed attorney in your area who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice that your issue relates.
California is a dual-consent state. Your question is too vague to permit any further analysis, other than to say that a subpoena is part of a pending lawsuit, not available with any lawsuit.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts...