New Jersey attorneys are picking a jury in an interesting case involving the use of a hidden camera. Dharun Ravi is charged with invasion of privacy for filming his roommate with another man. Niether person was aware of the webcam. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, later committed suicide.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3019 covers surreptitious videotaping. It is illegal to record another person without that person’s consent in a restroom, bathroom, bedroom or other location where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and the person is engaged in sexual contact. A violation of the section is a class 5 felony and punishable by two years in prison.
In New Jersey, Mr. Ravi is charged in a way where he could receive up to ten years in prison. Clearly the law is more punitive in that state. His attorneys have a huge hill to climb.
The interesting thing about the Arizona law, is what it does not cover. The law makes it a crime to illegally videotape or record a person where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy–so long as notice isn’t given in advance.
This means that it is legal to video for security purposes, so long as notice is given. It is also legal to use a “nanny-cam.” Arizona, in fact is quite permissive when it comes to videotaping. Some States require all parties to consent to taping a conversation. Not Arizona. Here, it is legal to record a conversation, so long as one party is aware that the conversation is being recorded. However, I always think it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer before you take any action.
Most states allow a person to record a conversation with another person without their permission. In fact, 38 states–including Arizona– have one-party consent statutes. Be careful, however, if you are in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, or Washington. In those states, all parties must give their consent prior to taping. This means that if more than two parties are talking, all must be on board with the recording.
It is too bad that our privacy is really a thing of the past. Unfortunately in the Ravi case, we see that invasion of privacy has real consequences and costs.
Nick Alcock is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the owner of the Law Offices of Alcock & Associates. Their attorneys handle criminal defense, immigration and personal injury matters.
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