Michigan Call Recording Law

Below is a section of the Michigan State Statutes that we believe apply to recording phone conversations. This information is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel.

From the Michigan State Code

Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539c: A private conversation legally cannot be overheard or recorded without the consent of all participants. Illegal eavesdropping can be punished as a felony carrying a jail term of up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000.

In addition, any individual who divulges information he knows, or reasonably should know, was obtained through illegal eavesdropping is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539e. Civil liability for actual and punitive damages also are sanctioned. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539h.

The eavesdropping statute has been interpreted by one court as applying only to situations in which a third party has intercepted a communication, an interpretation that makes it legal for a participant in a conversation to record that conversation without the permission of other parties. Sullivan v. Gray, 324 N.W.2d 58 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982).

The state supreme court stated in a July 1999 ruling that a participant in a conversation "may not unilaterally nullify other participants’ expectations of privacy by secretly broadcasting the conversation" and that the overriding inquiry should be whether the parties "intended and reasonably expected that the conversation was private." Therefore, it is likely that a recording party may not broadcast a recorded conversation without the consent of all parties. Dickerson v. Raphael, 601 N.W.2d 108 (Mich. 1999).

Under the Michigan statute, a parent may not vicariously consent to a recording for a minor child. Williams v. Williams, 603 N.W. 2d 114 (Mich. Ct. App. 1999).

It is a felony to observe, photograph or eavesdrop on a person in a private place without the person’s consent. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539d. A private place is a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from intrusion or surveillance, but not a place where the public has access. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539a.

Important Notice

It is always best to talk with an attorney if you have questions about the legal implications of recording calls in your state. We hope this information will serve as a general guide, and is not intended to substitute for expert legal counsel.

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