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  1. #1
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    Question Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    My question involves child abuse or neglect in the State of: California

    Is it legal to make an audio recording of a verbally abusive of a parent without their knowledge? Does it make a difference if their verbal abuse is being directed at the child? What if it is directed at the other parent in front of the child? What if it is just directed at the other parent outside the child's presence?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting Lizard
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    Is it legal to make an audio recording of a verbally abusive of a parent without their knowledge?
    No, unless you're a law enforcement officer with a warrant, and your three "what if" questions don't raise relevant concerns.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting Lizard
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    My question involves child abuse or neglect in the State of: California

    Is it legal to make an audio recording of a verbally abusive of a parent without their knowledge? Does it make a difference if their verbal abuse is being directed at the child? What if it is directed at the other parent in front of the child? What if it is just directed at the other parent outside the child's presence?
    The act of making the recording is not what is illegal, its what you do with the recording after the fact that could make it illegal. If you make the recording to demonstrate to the parent how he/she comes across when speaking to either the parent or the child, then its not necessarily illegal. If you share that recording with ANYONE else, then its totally illegal.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    The act of making the recording is not what is illegal, its what you do with the recording after the fact that could make it illegal. If you make the recording to demonstrate to the parent how he/she comes across when speaking to either the parent or the child, then its not necessarily illegal. If you share that recording with ANYONE else, then its totally illegal.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can you point me to a resource which corroborates this? I can't find anything to corroborate it via my searches for California penal code 632.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    The act of making the recording is not what is illegal, its what you do with the recording after the fact that could make it illegal.
    You're wrong on that. Simply recording it is itself a crime unless the consent of ALL parties is obtained. California PC 632(a) states:

    A person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop upon or record the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section or Section 631, 632.5, 632.6, 632.7, or 636, the person shall be punished by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    Note that it makes simply recording the communication a crime. It says nothing whatsoever about the use of the recording.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting Lizard
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    My question involves child abuse or neglect in the State of: California

    Is it legal to make an audio recording of a verbally abusive of a parent without their knowledge? Does it make a difference if their verbal abuse is being directed at the child? What if it is directed at the other parent in front of the child? What if it is just directed at the other parent outside the child's presence?
    What Taxing Matters said. Such a recording is a crime.

    However, if you are the child and use the recording to point out what you believe is rudeness on behalf of your parent, and you limit the recording to that act alone, then the chances of ever getting charged is slim (unless the parent reports it to the police).

    Perhaps it might be better to explain WHAT is going on? How old is the child? Who are you in this scenario? How will this recording be used? Ultimately, understand that a surreptitious recording as you outline the circumstances is illegal. It would be best NOT to do it at all.
    **********
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Legal to Audio Record a Verbally Abusive Parent

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    The act of making the recording is not what is illegal, its what you do with the recording after the fact that could make it illegal. If you make the recording to demonstrate to the parent how he/she comes across when speaking to either the parent or the child, then its not necessarily illegal. If you share that recording with ANYONE else, then its totally illegal.
    Where are you coming up with this? Cal. Penal Code section 632 (which I linked in my prior response) is quite clear that it is the "act of making the recording," and not how it is used, that is relevant. "A person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop upon or record the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment."

    Nowhere does it say, "shall be punished, unless the recording is used to demonstrate to one of the parties how he or she comes across." Nowhere in PC 632 is there any language that discusses how a recording is used or that the use has any bearing on either the illegality or the punishment.

    The only bit that bears further discussion is the term "confidential communication." PC 632(c) defines "confidential communication" to mean "any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes a communication made in a public gathering or in any legislative, judicial, executive, or administrative proceeding open to the public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded." There may be many circumstances in which someone being "verbally abusive" might not constitute a "confidential communication."

    Quote Quoting Lizard
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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can you point me to a resource which corroborates this? I can't find anything to corroborate it via my searches for California penal code 632.
    "llworking" cannot point you to anything that corroborates what he/she wrote because what he/she wrote is wrong.

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