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What Happens If You Secretly Record a Conversation in Florida?

Has your spouse Extorted you by secretly audio recording your home only 13-days after the wedding? It actually happened in Panama City Beach, where one woman purchased spyware the actual size and appearance of a functioning USB thumb drive. The woman would secretly hide it throughout the home, intentionally start an argument, then record the husband in hopes of better positioning herself in a divorce filed only four months after the wedding date. Yes, she demanded six types of alimony on a four month marriage with no children, no joint bank accounts, not even a home to dispute.

Florida is considered a two-party consent state, meaning that individuals engaged in a private conversation must all consent to any audio recording of the conversation to be legal. For example, you are prohibited from recording a phone call without every person’s consent. The same is true for secret audio recording in your own home, even if other family members are your target.

Under Fla. Stat. 934.03, secretly audio recording another individual is a 3rd Degree Felony offense, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. (Extortion is a separate Felony offense, and a subject for a separate blog.)

As such, each audio recording is a separate Felony. Therefore, if you secretly record 14 audio files, then you have committed 14 Felonies under Florida law.

It is also a 3rd Degree Felony every time an individual shares the secretly recorded audio. Thus, each time this woman shared her secret audio recordings with her girlfriends for fun and giggles, such was a separate Felony.

Furthermore, each time one of her girlfriends shared the secretly recorded audios, her girlfriends committed their own Felony offense in the act of sharing audio which they knew was secretly recorded by the wife.

The good news for those who are victims of this insane act is that the secret audio recordings are also inadmissible in Court per 934.06, unless being used to prosecute someone in violation of making or distributing said secret audio recordings under Fla. Stat. 934.

However, there is an exception to the law that allows children under the age of 18 to secretly record an oral communication if that child is being physically or sexually abused by an abuser.

On the other hand, the statute does not apply to public speeches and conversations in public places. The law only makes it illegal to secretly record a conversation that a person anticipates or expects to remain private. If, for instance, you are accused of secretly audio recording someone during an on the record Court proceeding or City Council meeting, you could assert that the conversation occurred in a public venue and other parties could also listen to the conversation.

Fla. Stat. 934.10 also permits a Civil remedy, whereby you can file an Invasion of Privacy Tort against the person who secretly audio records your home or you in general. Therefore, the husband can sue the wife for $100.00 per day of secret audio recording or $1,000 (whichever amount is higher), as well as recover punitive damages to punish the woman’s insane acts. Reasonable attorney’s fees will also be awarded in this Civil action.

In the actual case from Panama City Beach, the woman’s divorce lawyers actually permitted her to provide a full confession during a divorce deposition. Such was an inexcusable act of incompetence by the divorce lawyers, as any competent lawyer would instruct one’s client to invoke the 5th Amendment right to remain silent. However, it worked out great for the husband, who actually hired excellent legal Counsel.

Whether you have been accused of secretly recording audio or have questions regarding when you have been a victim of such an act, our Panama City criminal defense lawyer at Albert J. Sauline, III Attorney at Law can provide aggressive and experienced legal representation to get the best possible outcome. Contact us today and schedule a free case review.