Are there any situations or circumstances in which I can video record a conversation without asking the other party’s permission?

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Are there any situations or circumstances in which I can video record a conversation without asking the other party’s permission?

The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at my school is accusing me of smoking marijuana in my dorm room 1 night (even though I wasn’t there). I know how “shady” they can be sometimes so I recorded all 2 of our conversations without the other party’s knowledge or consent. The 1st was in a conference room with a grad student, my witness (had hidden camera), myself, and the Conduct Officer (CO). The room is situated next to the front door, and I chose to leave the room door open. The 2nd was in an office. There was only the CO and I in the meeting and I left the door open.

Asked on March 27, 2011 under Personal Injury, Nevada

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Nevada is an "all party" consent state.  This means that if a conversation is recorded all parties must consent to it.  That is unless there is no expectation of privacy.  In other words, was the conversation considered to be private.  Almost all telephone conversations are presumed to be.  However, in-person conversations are not necessarily private. As a general rule, in-person conversations which can be naturally overheard (i.e. without use of any special devices) are not considered private communications.

For example, if 2 people have a loud conversation in front of you at the gas station, they have no expectation that their communications are private.  Consequently, their conversation can generally legally be recorded without their consent.  On the other hand, if the conversation is considered private, such as a phone call or a quiet discussion between 2 people in an office or bedroom, then federal and/or state wiretapping or eavesdropping laws will apply. 

In your situation, the door was left open on both occasions, but it's  not clear exactly what the circumstances were.  For instance, could people outside be expected to here the conversation or not?  Possibly the first conversation was not legally protected (open door next to the front door) but the second may well have been (2 people in an office).  At this point, I would consult directly with an attorney as to your rights/liabilities in this matter before attempting to use these recordings (or even admitting to anyone else that they exist).  You could potentially be open to both criminal and civil penalties.


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