Is it legal in NC to record people on a tape recorder...

Is it legal in NC to record people on a tape recorder for court evidence without them knowing?

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I am a real estate agent involved in a lawsuit where I am the plantiff and I would like to record the defendant who will freely admit to me what he did. But I can not let him know he is being taped.


  1. You will want to confirm this with an attorney, but I believe it is legal here (NC) to record a conversation, so long as at least one party to the conversation (you) knows it is being recorded. This would mean, if I understand it correctly, that you can carry a recorder in your pocket, for example, but cannot plant one in the office and then record conversations after you’ve left the room, unless another person in the conversations is aware of the presence of the recording device.

    That said, please double check this, as I received this verbally from an attorney, but have not had reason to research it further.

    ** edit **

    The statute (GS 15a-287) appears to indicate that it’s permissible with the consent of one party, but I must still recommend checking with an attorney, as new case law may have appeared, of which I’m not aware.

  2. Hi,

    I got this info for you on a general seach, it sounds like what you need.

    I’m a Realtor in California. Good luck, Rich

    (See also: Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press – Guide to Tape Recording Phone Calls)

    Legal Services of North Texas
    Providing Civil Legal Assistance in North Texas Since 1966
    ¦ Fall 2002
    ¦ Volume III
    Are You Taping This?
    Repinted courtesy of the author – Stewart Ransom Miller

    In February 1971, the United States Secret Service, at the request of then President Richard M. Nixon, installed listening devices in the White House. They placed seven microphones in the Oval Office, five in the President’s desk, and one on each side of the fireplace. They placed two in the Cabinet Room under the table near the President’s chair. All were wired to recorders in the White House basement. The recordings became smoking guns. The rest is history. Recorded conversations soon achieved a special place in our history.
    Fast-forward to your need today to prove what someone said to a client in a telephone conversation. Such needs often arise in family law and consumer rights cases. Simply put – It only happened if you can prove it happened.
    One way to prove something happened is to record a telephone conversation with the callers being the parties to the event. However, you must be aware that recording telephone conversations is conduct regulated by Federal and state law.
    For example, Federal law allows recording of telephone calls with the consent of at least one party to the call. This means that if an individual places, receives, or joins a call, that individual may record the telephone call (without giving any warning or notice) and may later make use of the recording (including court room use).
    Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia permit an individual to record such telephone conversations. These laws are called “one-party consent” statutes. The following states have “one-party consent” statutes:
    District Of Columbia
    Kentucky Louisiana
    New Jersey
    New Mexico
    New York
    North Carolina
    North Dakota
    Rhode Island
    South Carolina
    South Dakota
    West Virginia
    On the other hand, twelve states require the consent of all parties to record [before recording] a telephone conversation. These laws are called “two-party consent” statutes. The following states have “one [two]-party consent” statutes*:
    Florida Illinois
    Montana New Hampshire
    It’s no surprise, however, that it is illegal in all states to record a telephone conversation to which you are not a party. Moreover, Federal law and that of most states make it illegal to disclose the contents of an illegally intercepted telephone conversation.
    Although their clients are permitted to record telephone calls, Texas lawyers are not permitted to do so. See Ethics Opinion 392, Tex, B.J., July 1978, page 580. Nonetheless, they are allowed to “advise a client to electronically record a telephone conversation to which the client is a party, without first informing all other parties involved.” See Ethics Opinion 514, February 1996. Furthermore, Texas lawyers are required to provide clients with both an accurate statement of these laws, and an honest opinion of the consequences likely to result from such a particular course of conduct. See Comment 7 to DR 1.02.
    Tell the clients that judges and juries like “smoking guns.”

    *Nevada should also be included in this latter category.

  3. In most states it is legal for security cameras to be placed in public places. Find a place where a camera is already recording what is going on and get him there. You can supoena the tapes later. just make sure the camera has sound.

  4. Video is legal as long as it’s not private. You can’t setup a camera in a bathroom. Sound is illegal period and is eavesdrop. Eavesdropping can also be done over telephone lines (wiretapping), email, instant messaging, and other methods of communication considered private. (If a message is publicly broadcast, witnessing it does not count as eavesdropping.)

  5. Here is the text of the NC laws regarding taping phone conversations:

    N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287: It is a Class H felony to intercept or disclose the contents of a wire, oral or electronic communication without the consent of at least one party to the communication, The statute defines wire communications to exclude the radio portion of a cordless telephone call that is transmitted between a cordless telephone handset and base unit. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287.

    In other words, only one party needs to consent.

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