The short answer is No.
This question came up on an online list serve I am a member of for attorneys who practice personal injury law. While reading it it occurred to me that if attorneys are asking this question what about the general public? As attorneys started to respond to the inquiry another asked about messages left on answering machines?
In Pennsylvania there is a specific statute that deals with this question, a violation of which is a Felony of the 3rd degree. It does not make exceptions for recording friends and/or family members. I had a client learn this the hard way and we actually went to a jury trial. Fortunately for him, we were able to get a not guilty on this charge due to a technicality our research turned up.
To find a person guilty of this charge the District Attorney has to prove that you (1) intercepted, endeavored to intercept, procured another person to intercept or endeavor to intercept a wire, oral or electronic communication; and (2) that you did so intentionally.
With regard to messages left on answering machines there is no expectation of privacy when this is done. Accordingly the current state of the law is that you can use a message left on an answering machine.
Taping someone without their permission fits the definition whether it’s in person, over the phone or in any other manor. This sometimes comes up in Domestic cases where one spouse records the other thinking they can use the conversion against that spouse. You can’t… and ignorance of the law is no defense!
At the Law office of John E. Kusturiss, Jr., P.L.L.C., we are familiar with these types of cases and are ready and able to help counsel you, and/or defend you should you find yourself charged with a wire tapping violation. Contact us today for a free consultation!