is it admissible in court to record someone without their knowledge in...

is it admissible in court to record someone without their knowledge in the state of Oregon?

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  1. It is illegal in Oregon to obtain or attempt to obtain any part of a telecommunication or radio communication to which a person is not a participant by means of any device, unless consent is given by at least one participant. "Obtain" has been defined by the courts to include intercepting, as well as recording, by means of a device. This provision does not apply to a broadcast transmitted to the general public.

    Oral communications
    It is also illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain any part of a conversation (face-to-face communication) by means of any device, if all participants in the conversation are not "specifically informed" that their conversation is being obtained. It is not enough that the parties to a conversation "reasonably should have known" that a recording was being made. Instead, the parties must receive "an unequivocal warning" that the conversation is being obtained. However, as long as the required information is given, there is no additional requirement that the parties understand the warning or consent to recording.
    In 1994, an Oregon Appeals Court ruled that because a "conversation" requires oral communication between two or more persons under the statute, a suspect’s statements made to himself in the back seat of a patrol car were not protected and the suspect did not have to be told he was being recorded.
    The Oregon statute does not require that participants have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversation in order for it to be protected. However, the law specifically does not apply to using an unconcealed recording device to record oral communications that are a part of the following:
    public or semipublic meetings, such as hearings before governmental bodies, trials, press conferences, public speeches, rallies, and sporting or other events;
    regularly scheduled classes or similar educational activities in public or private institutions; or
    private meetings or conferences if all others involved knew or reasonably should know that the recording was being made.

    The statute also does not apply to a person who records a conversation during a felony that endangers human life. It does apply to a reporter engaged in an on-the-record conversation with a public official; the press has no rights above those of other citizens regarding recording under the statute. So a reporter must either "specifically inform" the public official that their face-to-face conversation is being recorded, or the conversation must fall into the press conference or private meeting exception above.

    Oregon law makes an exception to these prohibitions: A person may obtain a telecommunication or radio communication without consent, or a conversation without informing the participants, in his own home.

    Other provisions
    Oregon also makes it illegal to do the following:
    Obtain any part of a conversation, telecommunication or radio communication from any person, while knowing or having good reason to believe that such conversation, telecommunication or radio communication was initially obtained in a manner prohibited by the statute.
    Use or attempt to use, or divulge to others any conversation, telecommunication or radio communication obtained by any means prohibited by the statute.
    Tamper with the wires, circuits, lines or other equipment or facilities of a telecommunication or radio communication company with the intent to obtain unlawfully the contents of a telecommunication or radio communication to which such person is not a participant.

    Finally, Oregon has an additional statute that makes it illegal for a person to willfully intercept, attempt to intercept or have another person intercept any wire or oral communication where the person is not a party to the communication and "where none of the parties to the communication has given prior consent." Because Oregon courts have interpreted the word "obtain" in the provisions discussed above to include interception as well as recording, it is not clear what this statute adds to those provisions. In any case, the case law in Oregon has been based on the provisions discussed above, rather than on this interception statute.

    What is covered
    It is legal under the statute to intercept radio communications that are transmitted by any governmental, law enforcement, civil defense, private land mobile or public safety communications system, including police and fire department systems, if they are readily accessible to the general public and the interception is not for the purpose of illegal activity. It is also legal to intercept amateur or citizens band radio communications.
    Tape recording police broadcasts intercepted using a scanner is legal because those broadcasts are "for the use of the general public" within the meaning of the statute.
    The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that a telephone conversation between private citizens, when one or more of the parties uses a cordless telephone, is not a radio broadcast "transmitted for the use of the general public" within the meaning of the statute, so that intercepting such conversations is illegal.

    Violation of any of these provisions is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum prison term of one year and a fine not to exceed $5,000.

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