Dangers Of Recording Conversations - Trials & Appeals & Compensation - United States

Gunnar Larson g at xny.io
Fri Jan 27 00:41:25 PST 2023


Q: My business competitor (or business partner, neighbor, ex-spouse, boss,
co-worker, etc.) is doing bad things. I just need to prove it. I can record
our conversations secretly on my smart phone, which would be a sure-fire
way to get evidence of them admitting to their misdeeds. Should I do it?

A: In New Hampshire, the answer is a resounding no, unless you want to face
potential criminal charges and a lawsuit from the person you record.

In this day and age when most of us walk around with iPhones, Androids, and
the like, that can be used as pocket-sized recording devices with the tap
of an icon, it may be tempting-or even seem justified-to secretly record a
conversation in order to show that someone is engaged in some kind of
misconduct. This is particularly true if you stand to be harmed in some way
by that misconduct. If you do so, however, you would very likely be
engaging illegal conduct yourself under New Hampshire law and opening
yourself up to legal trouble.

New Hampshire is a "two party" state, meaning that it is against the law to
intentionally record a conversation unless both (or if more than two, all)
parties involved consent to the recording (with some narrow exceptions
largely involving law enforcement activities). Someone who violates this
law could be charged with a Class B felony or a misdemeanor under the
Wiretapping and Eavesdropping statute, RSA 570-A. Moreover, the person you
recorded without their consent could bring a civil lawsuit against you and
be entitled to collect damages, punitive damages, and their reasonable
attorneys' fees and litigation costs.

At least you still have that great evidence of your counterpart admitting
to dastardly deeds, right? Well, you may have the evidence but it is
unlikely to see the light of day in court. New Hampshire law prohibits the
admission into evidence of conversations recorded in violation of the New
Hampshire statute.

If you believe you have legal case or a claim to be made, talk to an
attorney about how you can build your case. If you take matters into your
own hands and try to get evidence using a hidden hot mic, you may well end
up on the hot seat.

Published in the Manchester Union Leader, January 21, 2023.
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