Is it legal if2 parties are talking on the phone anddo not know a third party is recording the conversation?

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Is it legal if2 parties are talking on the phone anddo not know a third party is recording the conversation?

My 85 year-old mother stayed with my brother for a visit. She called me on the phone as my brother and his family went to a movie and she was all alone in the house. Our conversation lasted 4 almost an hour. A few days later my brother went 2 my mother with a tape recording of our conversation making her listen to it and then questioned her as if she was on the witness stand. My mother and I did not know we were being taped. My mother, back in her own home, has dementia and is very upset by all that my brother is doing. He even called my ex-husband and told him about the contents of the call and how that he had a tape. This was in MI.

Asked on January 4, 2012 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is absolutely illegal. A private communication may only be recorded if at lease 1 party to the conversation is a party to it and consents to such a recording (in some states all parties must consent; MI is such a state). The exception to this would be recording a conversation in a public place such that the parties could have no expectation of privacy (i.e. one taking place in a restaurant or the like).

The penalties for violation of the law are severe. In MI, this is offense is punishable as a felony for which a person may face incarceration in a state prison for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000 or both. Additionally, your mother could sue for invasion of privacy in civil court.


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