Electronic Eavesdropping and the Police

August 4, 2010

ABC News recently posted an article dealing with audio recordings and the police.  This is a trend that has garnered much attention lately, essentially the states wiretap laws break down along a couple of lines, those that require both parties consent before recording a conversation, and those that require only one parties consent (like the federal law). 

In some states police have been using statutes that require both parties consent to record a conversation to arrest and charge individuals who have audio recorded encounters with the police.

When looking for statutes such as these, it can very often be hard to find the correct sections.  We may know the topic of the statute, but not any terms that are necessarily going to occur within the section.  For this type of inquiry the statute index is the best. 

On Westlaw, if you go to the search window, or table of contents for a statutes database, you can click “Statutes Index” on the upper right.  This is different from the table of contents because it is a topical organization of the statutes, if you look under “Eavesdropping” or “Wiretapping” for instance you should be able to find these statutes that are cited as preventing audio recording. 

If you are interested in a 50 state survey that breaks down every states wiretapping laws, you can find a comprehensive breakdown here in the 50 state surveys database.

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