Many times, clients come into our office with audio recordings of calls or conversations that they want to use as evidence in their case. In most instances, I have to advise our clients that while the recordings may be relevant and useful to their cause, they may have actually committed a crime by recording the calls illegally. One of the practice areas of our firm is focused on is consumer rights and prosecuting companies that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). When we have a client who is being harassed by a debt collector and wants to make an audio recording of that debt collector’s call, we must inform our clients of the laws that govern when and how it is lawful to record a call. By legally recording the calls, we can obtain and secure very useful and compelling evidence to assist our clients in their cases.
Under Florida law, in most circumstances all parties to the call must consent to the recording of the call in order to make it legal to record the call. This type of restrictive law is sometimes referred to as a “two-party consent” law but in in reality, Florida has an “all-party consent” law in place. Chapter 934 of the Florida Statutes governs the Security of Communications and Surveillance Operations within the State of Florida. Florida Statute § 934.03 is the State of Florida’s primary wiretapping law, which governs the interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications. Florida Statute § 934.03(1) lists what acts are illegal, including but not limited to the use of any electronic device to intercept an oral communication or phone call. If you violate the statute, you are committing a crime. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 934.03(4), the crime could be a third degree felony, which is usually punishable by up to five years in state prison. In addition to the criminal penalties for illegally recording a call, you may also be liable for civil fines and penalties pursuant to Florida Statute § 934.10.