Is it legal to record a conversation in NY
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Is It Legal To Record A Conversation In NY? Things You Must Know!

| July 5, 2021

Recording a conversation without that person’s awareness is not legal in NY. And, even if it is registered, then will it be justified as a piece of evidence to submit in court or not? That is another common question for legal practitioners.

The legality of recording one’s phone call conversation varies from state to state and across the federal laws of New York. Therefore, it is a must to identify which jurisdiction is ruling the state before giving consent to recording a conversation. So, it can be a complex scenario unless both parties give full permission to the recording.

Is It Illegal To Record Someone?

Is It Illegal To Record Someone?

It is illegal to record someone’s conversation or to eavesdrop on one’s conversation in NY if none of the parties has consented to the recording. According to the one-party consent law, at least one party must agree to the audio or video recording. It is the ruling of federal law. However, the enactment of the state law suggests that both parties have to have consent on the recording if they want to submit that in court as evidence.

Now, the legality is not so easy that one will give consent, and the recording will be treated as evidence. If both the parties are in different New York states, then which state rule will apply to the recording cannot be determined. In such situations, federal laws can also apply. But, if both the parties are in different states, then acquiring both their consent will be the safe solution. 

Difference Between Federal Law And State Law In NY Regarding Conversation Recording

Difference Between Federal Law And State Law In NY Regarding Conversation Recording

According to the wiretapping federal law section 18 U.S. Code § 2511, you need to collect one-party consent to record a conversation. If you are a party yourself at the talk, your consent will also act as the one-party consent. There is a total of 38 states in New York that have adapted the one-party consent federal law. As long as one of the parties has complete knowledge of the conversation recording, there is no written consent. If the person claims that he knew the conversation was getting recorded, then submitting it in court will not be illegal.

On the contrary, state law requires both parties to agree on the recording terms if they want to treat the recording as evidence. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, Washington, and several other states agree to the two-party consent rule. Nonetheless, North Dakota, Alaska, Alabama, Texas, Utah, Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and many other states have already adhered to the federal law of one-party consent.

If the conversation involves more than two people, then the state laws suggest that every party agree to the recording. 

Is It Legal To Record A Conversation In NY?

It is true that if one party consents to the recording, then it is not illegal anymore. However, the legal acts must also adhere to the standards of ethics. Otherwise, it will violate the honesty of the legal proceedings. For example, if a lawyer is engaged in private practice and records the conversation with another attorney without asking the first party, it will be unethical. But, the lawyer was aware of the recording, so no legal rules are indeed being violated here. However, it seems to breach the traditional norms of honesty and fairness fundamental in legal practice. 

Can You Use A Conversation Recording Against A Person In NY Court?

Can You Use A Conversation Recording Against A Person In NY Court?

If you are the one who is one party at the conversation and you are aware of the recording, then you can use the conversation recording against the person in NY Court. For example, suppose you are facing inappropriate comments from your professor or your manager in your office. In that case, you can record the person because you are one party in that conversation who agrees on it. 

First, however, you must be sure that your college or your office does not have any termination policy against secret recordings because, in that case, you will be the one getting sued for violating workplace ethics. 

Many people often wonder whether they can record their attorneys or not. Well, the answer is no because that will breach attorney-client confidentiality. So, is it legal to record a conversation in NY? As mentioned earlier, if one of the parties agrees on the recording, it will be treated as a piece of solid evidence. 

However, if you record your attorney secretly, then it will be invalid in court. Nevertheless, if someone overhears your conversation with your attorney and you testify against the person in the courtroom, that is not illegal.  

Now, if you want to record a conversation with someone who is in a different state than yours, then there are chances that it will be a breach of rules in many states. The best way to record such conversations will be to gather consent from both parties. You must always choose the safer option because even if the person you are recording does not sue you, it will certainly be a criminal lawsuit in the court’s eyes. No matter how solid the evidence is, it will be unaccepted in court. That is because recording conversations involving parties of different states is a complex legal practice. 

If you want to record the conversation of government officials, then there are special considerations. As a citizen of that country, you have the constitutional right to record their discussion as long as it is happening in public. However, you must not interfere in their activities or interrupt their conversation, and only then will you be submitting a piece of valid evidence in court.


We would like to conclude that in NY, if you have the consent of one party, you can record the conversation. This is because new York has adopted the federal law of wiretapping, where the permission of one party is applicable in conversation recording. However, you must also know that having the consent of both parties is always a safer option in case you want to avoid all sorts of legal violations.

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Mashum Mollah
Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is the feature writer of Search Engine Magazine and an SEO Analyst at iDream Agency. Over the last 3 years, He has successfully developed and implemented online marketing, SEO, and conversion campaigns for 50+ businesses of all sizes. He is the co-founder of Social Media Magazine.


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