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Legal experts explains the legality of recording conversations

Posted at 9:07 AM, Aug 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 09:37:42-04

While President Donald Trump's latest scandal regarding audio recordings is making headlines, he is yet another public figure that has been so-called "caught on tape."

Jackson County Sherrif Steve Rand has been under scrutiny for something similar and with that, many question whether it's legal. FOX 47's Marcus Dash is getting answers.

While some see it as being unethical, it is for the most part legal in most states for one person in a conversation to know that there is a recording. Only 9 states in America require all parties involved to consent to the recording of a conversation. Naturally, I recorded a local law expert filling me in on what you need to know right here in Michigan.

"Could somebody be recording me while I'm talking to them? Yeah, it could be happening. Can it happen? In Michigan and in most states, the answer is yes," said Ron Bretz.

Former Law Professor and defense attorney Ron Bretz tells me the recording laws in Michigan make it a crime to record a conversation, unless a person in the conversation consents, and obviously if you are recording you're agreeing.

"As the long as the person being spoken to voluntarily and consensually recorded them then yes, it's okay," said Bretz.

Michigan and Washington D.C. both adhere to the one-party consent laws.  However, in Michigan, there are some restrictions to recording conversations.  If you are caught eavesdropping that is punishable by up to two years.

"Meaning the person intercepting and recording the conversation doesn't have the consent of any participant," said Bretz.

In Bretz's many years of practicing law in Michigan, he said the only time he noticed or heard of any cases that involved unlawful recording was when it came to divorce.

"It's a marital dispute and so you are bugging mate's calls to find out if he or she is cheating on you," said Bretz.

With the way modern technology continues to advance, Bretz says we should take these high profile cases as a lesson to watch what you say at all times.

"It's more important than ever before to behave in public and unless you don't care about your reputation and to watch what you say, people can be recording you," said Bretz.

Bretz tells me that audio recordings are admissible in court, but they do have to go through some validation.