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

UPDATED: Mar 27, 2011

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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


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

Answered 12 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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