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Taping conversations

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My neice lives in Ohio. Her exhusband taped a conversation with her current husband in which "ex" caused an argument with "current". "Current" had no knowledge that he was being taped. In court, "Current" denied arguing with "Ex" but "Ex" used the tape in court. 1. I thought this was illegal. 2. What recourse does "Current" have? He knows he shouldn't have denied the argument. (He showed great restraint, by the way. "Ex" caused the situation that led to the argument, then pushed and pushed trying to get "Current" to physically assault him, all the while, taping the whole thing. He is always trying to cause trouble for my neice.)




It is a felony of the fourth degree, punishable by up to five years and a $2,500 fine, to "purposely" do any of the following:

Intercept, attempt to intercept, or have another person intercept or attempt to intercept a wire, oral or electronic communication.
Use, attempt to use, or have another person use or attempt to use an interception device to intercept a wire, oral or electronic communication if the device transmits communications by radio or interferes with the transmission of communications by radio, or if the device is affixed to or transmits a signal through a wire, cable, satellite, microwave or similar method of connection used in wire communications. (The Ohio Appeals Court has ruled that a video camcorder is an "interception device.")
Use or attempt to use the contents (any information concerning the substance, purport or meaning) of a communication, if one knows or has reason to know that the contents were obtained through an interception in violation of the statute.

In 1993, an audio recording of a telephone conversation between a father and a son was admitted in a divorce proceeding as lawful evidence in part because an answering machine accidentally recorded the conversation, so the recording was not done "purposely."
It is also a fourth-degree felony to "willfully and maliciously cut, break, tap, or make connection with a telegraph or telephone wire" or to read, copy or make unauthorized use of a communication from a wire so cut or tapped.

The statute does not apply to a person intercepting a communication who is a party to the communication or when one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception and the interception is not for the purpose of committing a crime, tort or any other injurious act.

Reasonable expectation of privacy
The statute requires a reasonable expectation of privacy for oral communications. To be protected, an oral communication must be uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that the communication is not subject to interception, under circumstances that justify that expectation.

What is covered
The statute does not apply to radio communications transmitted by a governmental, law enforcement, civil defense, private land mobile or public safety communications system, including police or fire department systems, that are readily accessible to the general public. It is also legal to intercept amateur, citizens band or general mobile radio services communications.
The statute does not apply to the interception or accessing of an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that the electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public.
The Ohio Appeals Court ruled in 1994 that the statute does not apply to the interception of cellular telephone conversations by the use of ham radio and other wireless equipment. The state supreme court ruled the same year that the statute does apply to cordless telephone communications that are intentionally intercepted and recorded.
The Ohio Appeals Court ruled in 1989 that the statute applies to telephone extensions; that is, using a telephone extension to listen to a telephone conversation without the consent of either party to the conversation is a violation of the statute.

Civil remedies
A person whose communications are intercepted, disclosed or intentionally used in violation of the statute may file a civil suit. The statute does not provide a civil remedy for attempted interception, however. Remedies available include an injunction or other appropriate relief as well as the following damages: the greater of either actual damages suffered and profits made by the violator or statutory damages, computed at a rate of $200 per day of violation or $10,000, whichever is greater. Punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees and court costs are also available. The statute of limitations for filing suit is two years.

Ohio Revised Code Annotated 2933.51, 2933.52, 2933.65, 4931.28, 2929.11 (Anderson 1997); State v. Bidinost, 644 N.E.2d 318 (Ohio 1994); State v. Larabee, 1994 Ohio App. LEXIS 5312 (Ohio Ct. App. 1994); Thomas v. Goldsmith, 1994 Ohio App. LEXIS 3121 (Ohio. Ct. App. 1994); State v. Shultz, 1994 Ohio App. LEXIS 1276 (Ohio Ct. App. 1994); Marshall v. Marshall, 1993 Ohio App. LEXIS 2798 (Ohio Ct. App. 1993); State v. Thomas, 1989 Ohio App. LEXIS 2658 (Ohio Ct. App. 1989).

I am a law school graduate. What I offer is mere information, not to be construed as forming an attorney client relationship.


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