Can I Secretly Record a Conversation In North Carolina?

Can I secretly record a conversation in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, so long as you are participating in the conversation, the answer is generally “yes.” North Carolina is a “One Party” state, N.C. Gen Stat § 15A-287(a)(1), meaning that any party to a conversation may consent to record that conversation without the consent or knowledge of any other party to the conversation. This law applies to both telephone and in-person conversations.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: There are exceptions to this rule, depending how and where the recording takes place.  Consult with an attorney before recording someone else without their knowledge.

What if I’m not a party to the conversation?

In North Carolina, if someone records a conversation in which he is not a participant, he may be guilty of a Class H felony. For example, if two people are having a conversation in an office, and unbeknownst to them, a third person is hiding in the closet recording them, that third person may be guilty of a crime.

What about interstate phone calls?

If a person in North Carolina records a phone conversation with a party in another state, that act might not be protected by the one party consent rule.  While a majority of states have adopted “one party consent” laws similar to North Carolina, 12 states require all parties to a conversation to consent to any recording.  If any party to the conversation is in a “two party” state, the person making the recording may be subject to criminal action.

What if I have been secretly recorded?

If you have been secretly recorded by someone who was not a party to the conversation, you may be able to recover liquidated and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.  N.C. Gen Stat § 15A-296.  However, you may not have a cause of action using the “one party consent” recording law if you were secretly recorded by someone who was a participant in your conversation.

Contact the attorneys at Gallagher & Jacobs, PLLC if you have a question about your rights under North Carolina privacy law.


These materials are prepared for information purposes only.  The materials are not legal advice and you should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of an attorney.  Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.