Recording Phone Conversations Illegal In Massachusetts
It was surprising to learn that recording someone in Massachusetts is illegal.
Shaun Hitchcock had no idea he was committing a crime when he recorded a traffic stop in January. A police officer pulled him over for driving too fast under the road conditions. Hitchcock recorded the conversation to take precaution. The police officer made a rude comment about giving him a ticket for making him get out of his car, so Hitchcock told the officer he was recording the conversation. This incident turned out to be the beginning of a seven-month, $3,000 nightmare for him.
The officer made the statement “The defendant secretly audio recorded my conversation... The defendant had discretely placed his cell phone somewhere down by his side, out of plain view.”
Hitchcock was summoned to be charged with an illegal wiretap, violating Massachusetts General Law c272 s99.
"Here is the first part of MGL c272 s 99: “The general court finds that organized crime exists within the commonwealth and that the increasing activities of organized crime constitute a grave danger to the public welfare and safety."
In Massachusetts, anyone being recorded needs to give consent beforehand. The main idea is that if someone is secretly hiding a device they can be charged with wiretapping.
Hitchcock, 26, received three months probation in Westfield District Court last week when he accepted a plea bargain after being charged with illegal wiretapping.
Additional Reporting by Kiah Heron