Can I tape record someone who is making threats towards me that I can hear from inside my house but that are not said directly to me?

UPDATED: Aug 13, 2011

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Can I tape record someone who is making threats towards me that I can hear from inside my house but that are not said directly to me?

I live in a duplex and I had an argument with the woman who lives on the other side over garbage payment which we are both responsible for. The same night I confronted her about it I heard clearly through the wall her (screaming over the phone) telling someone that she is going to kill me and burn the house down when she moves (she is being evicted by our landlord for refusing to pay the right amount of rent). She also banged on the wall. I was wondering if in NY it is legal to tape record her saying this stuff if I can hear it through the wall? I am concerned for my safety.

Asked on August 13, 2011 New York


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Record it anyway. What is the worst that could happen for you recording what is occurring in your property? You are recording the secondary sounds coming into your apartment. It would be a different issue if you were wiretapping her line, which is a federal offense without a warrant. The argument would be that she has no expectation of privacy in your home if her voice carries over. Case law is all over the place. Essentially, those who record telephone conversations or conversations held inside an apartment but record it from the outside do not necessarily break the law because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place.

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