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Know the Law- Michigan eavesdropping laws

Posted at 8:40 AM, Nov 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-10 08:40:47-05

With cell phones everywhere, many of us have the ability to easily record conversations. But do you need to be careful with who or what you’re recording? Maybe so. This week Grand Rapids personal injury attorney, Tom Sinas, discusses Michigan eavesdropping laws.

Technology and Eavesdropping
Michigan eavesdropping laws have actually been around for a long time, but the advancement of technology has started to make this more of an issue. Eavesdropping in Michigan is a crime – it’s a felony and can also subject the guilty party to civil liability.

What is Eavesdropping and When is it Illegal
By definition, eavesdropping is: overhearing, recording, amplifying, or transmitting any part of the private conversation of others without their permission.

In Michigan, we have what is known as a one-party consent law when it comes to eavesdropping. For example, two people are sitting together in a room having a conversation. Consent isn’t required for one party to record that conversation under Michigan eavesdropping laws. Because that person is a party to the conversation, they can record it.

In the second scenario, the same two people are in a room having a conversation and there’s a camera in the corner recording the conversation without either parties’ knowledge. If consent wasn’t obtained from either party, the one making the recording is technically guilty of eavesdropping.

Eavesdropping – More Commonplace Than We Realize

Eavesdropping is actually more common than you think and there aren’t droves of guilty parties going to jail for it. This is because you must show the recording was done willfully. A lot of devices out there now are automatically recording that happen to pick up something incriminating, but it wasn’t necessarily done on purpose. It’s important to understand this distinction. Furthermore, eavesdropping laws vary from state to state and there are also federal eavesdropping laws.

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