NH Law About... Recording Conversations

Introduction to... Recording Conversations

Updated December 28, 2017. 

The questions we get at the Law Library about secretly recording conversations usually refer to private parties: family members, neighbors, or landlords and tenants, so that is what we focus on in this guide. Surveillance by law enforcement or the government is not covered.  

Two-Party State

New Hampshire is a "two-party" or "all-party" state where every party to a conversation has to agree to the recording.  The New Hampshire statute is RSA 570-A, Wiretapping and Eavesdropping. Intentional violations of RSA 570-A can result in a class B felony or a misdemeanor, as well as money damages.  

Federal versus State Law

New Hampshire law is stricter than federal and many other states' laws. Although it's about criminal law, Criminal Practice and Procedure has an excellent, detailed comparison of New Hampshire and federal law on eavesdropping or wiretapping, and does include some discussion about actions by private parties.  In The Law of Electronic Surveillance, there are chapters on surveillance by communications companies, and interspousal and intrafamilial surveillance.

Recording Law Enforcement 

Two First Circuit (New Hampshire is part of the First Circuit) cases have affirmed our First Amendment right to record police officers under certain circumstances.  

About This Guide 

The “Read About …” section of this guide links to resources about the law and will give you context and key terms. “Read the Law …” links to selected laws. Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only. NH Law About … is a place to start your legal research and is not a substitute for a lawyer's help.  

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Read about... Recording Conversations

WEBSITES

Reporter's Recording Guide (August 1, 2012)

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

A state-by-state guide to laws on taping phone calls and in-person conversations. Because this guide was written with the needs of journalists in mind, it does not address all aspects of electronic recording laws, including the issues of taping family members’ calls and using a tape recording as evidence in a lawsuit or prosecution.   GO>

Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping. (Congressional Research Service report, Oct. 9, 2012)

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

This report provides an overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). ECPA consists of three parts. The first, often referred to as Title III, outlaws wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping, except as otherwise provided. The second, the Stored Communications Act, governs the privacy of, and government access to, the content of electronic communications and to related records. The third outlaws the use and installation of pen registers and of trap and trace devices, unless judicially approved for law enforcement or intelligence gathering purposes.   GO>


PRINT

Criminal practice and procedure / by Richard B. McNamara. New Providence, NJ : LexisNexis Matthew Bender, 2017. 6th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: April 6, 2018

The law of electronic surveillance / James G. Carr. West, c2011-  GO>

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

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Read the law about... Recording Conversations

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATUTES

RSA 570-A. Wiretapping and Eavesdropping  GO>

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>
 

NEW HAMPSHIRE CASES

118 N.H. 90 (1978). State v. Ayres

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

New Hampshire RSA ch. 570-A is a stricter wiretapping and eavesdropping law, and protects the individual's right to privacy to a greater degree than the United States Constitution or the federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2510-2520.   GO>

139 N.H. 344 (1995). State v. Telles

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

Whether RSA 570–A:1, IV(a)(1) (Supp.1993) creates an exception for domestic eavesdropping is a question of first impression for this court. We interpret RSA 570–A:1, IV(a)(1) (Supp.1993) as creating an absolute exception for extension telephones used in the home by the user or subscriber.   GO>

143 N.H. 585 (1999). Fischer v. Hooper

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

This appeal arises in the context of a jury verdict finding the defendant, David Hooper, liable for both a violation of the New Hampshire wiretapping and eavesdropping statute, RSA ch. 570-A and the common law tort of invasion of privacy. Although the defendant never obtained the plaintiff's permission to record the telephone conversations, he nonetheless did so without her knowledge. During a meeting with the plaintiff, the guardian ad litem, and the therapist, the defendant revealed that he had been taping the plaintiff's telephone conversations.   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Reports

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Find the New Hampshire Reports in libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>
 

UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

U.S. Constitution. First Amendment  GO>

Link verified on: December 27, 2017


FEDERAL CASES

655 F.3d 78 (2011). Glik v. Cunniffe

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative.   GO>

753 F. 3d 1 (2014). Gericke v. Begin

Link verified on: December 28, 2017

This case raises an important question about an individual's First Amendment right to film a traffic stop by a police officer. Carla Gericke attempted to film Sergeant Joseph Kelley as he was conducting a late-night traffic stop. Shortly thereafter, she was arrested and charged with several crimes, including a violation of New Hampshire's wiretapping statute. Gericke was not brought to trial. She subsequently sued the Town of Weare, its police department, and the officers who arrested and charged her, alleging in pertinent part that the wiretapping charge constituted retaliatory prosecution in violation of her First Amendment rights.   GO>


FEDERAL STATUTES

18 U.S.C. 2510-2522. Wire and Electronic Communications Interception and Interception of Oral Communications  GO>

Link verified on: December 27, 2017


FOR MORE HELP ...

Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association.   GO>

Link verified on: March 23, 2018

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>


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