South Carolina Call Recording Law

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

From the South Carolina State Code

S.C. Code Ann. §§ 17-30-20, 17-30-30: It is a felony to intercept, disclose or use a wire, electronic or oral communication, unless it is done with the consent of at least one party to the communication.

Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. See definition of "oral communication," S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-15.

Anyone whose communication has been unlawfully intercepted can recover actual damages in the amount of $500 per day of violation or $25,000, whichever is greater, and also can recover punitive damages, litigation costs and attorney fees. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-135.

Another South Carolina statute makes it a misdemeanor to eavesdrop or be a "Peeping Tom" on the premises of another. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-470. The term "Peeping Tom" includes using video or audio equipment to invade the privacy of others. However, the statute does not apply to bona fide news gathering activities. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-470(E)(5).

An intermediate appellate court held that the "Peeping Tom" statute was not applicable to newspaper reporters who attempted to overhear city council proceedings during a closed executive session because the reporters were on public property — not the premises of another — and did nothing "to enable them to overhear what was going on in the executive session other than to wait in the place provided as a waiting room for reporters and other members of the public." Neither the overhearing, nor the publication of anything overheard, violated the South Carolina statute. Herald Publishing Co. v. Barnwell, 351 S.E.2d 878 (S.C. App. 1986).

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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