Home > Celebrity cases, Child Custody, child support, children, Domestic Violence, evidence, Other thoughts, unmarried parties > Ex-Girlfriend Recorded Conversation – Is it Legal?

Ex-Girlfriend Recorded Conversation – Is it Legal?

The ex-girlfriend of actor Mel Gibson, Oksana Grigorieva, has reported that she did not leak the contents of the conversations she recorded with Mel Gibson to the media. As one might expect, Mel does not believe her.

What many people do not realize is that the recording of a telephone conversation can be illegal; it is considered wiretapping. State laws can vary as to what constitutes wiretapping. There is also a federal statute dealing with wiretapping. All of these laws make it a criminal offense to record someone else’s telephone conversations. So, why is there no discussion about Ms. Grigorieva being brought up on criminal charges? That is because some states’ laws allow a conversation to be recorded if one of the parties to the conversation agrees to the recording. If California, where the recording took place, allows for one party to consent to the recording, then she is not in violation of the law, because she would have, presumably, agreed to the recordings of her conversations with Mr. Gibson. Federal law requires the permission of one of the parties. In contrast, Pennsylvania law requires the consent of all parties to the conversation. So, it Mr. Gibson were in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his ex-girlfriend were Erie, PA, then both parties to the conversation would have to agree to allow the conversation to be recorded.

It is also a violation of the Pennsylvania law to use the recorded conversation in any court proceedings. Most attorneys do not want to know if their clients have recordings of conversations between their client and the other party. The situation is different with messages left on voice mail or on answering machines. In those situations, the person leaving the message is implicitly giving his or her approval to have the statement recorded.

Since Gibson and Grigorieva have been involved in child custody, child support, domestic violence cases, efforts may be made to use any statements in evidence in any pending proceedings. If the statements were legally obtained, i.e. there was no violation of the state or federal wiretapping laws, as statements made by the parties, they would be admissible in court.

In the coming weeks, more scrutiny will be applied to, not only what Mel Gibson allegedly said, but also to the circumstances surrounding the recording and disclosure of those conversations.

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  1. michellefrommadison
    July 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm | #1

    That girl had it coming, what a slut she is. Good for her that she only had two teeth broken, she may have deserved a worse punishment for how she treated Mel.

    • Michael Viola
      July 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm | #2

      I do not condone any type of domestic violence. You are entitled to your opinion, which is why I did not consider your post to be spam.

  2. michellefrommadison
    July 13, 2010 at 9:49 pm | #3

    If the taping was a violation of Law, let’s be sure the “taper” gets prosecuted too because that may be the provoke-tion of the whole rant issue.

    • Michael Viola
      July 14, 2010 at 9:02 am | #4

      It is my understanding that, under California law, conversations can be recorded if the statements are being obtained to gather evidence for a criminal investigation, such as the domestic violence suit against Mel Gibson. I am sure that, if it is established that the recording was obtained in violation of the California wiretapping law, Mr. Gibson’s counsel will push for Ms. Grigorieva’s prosecution.

  3. July 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm | #5

    they do sound kinda doctored…
    poor Mel. I dont condone violence against women either but I kinda feel he was set up…

  4. jane
    July 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm | #6

    You are wrong about Pa. law. In Pa. anyone can record a call without notifying the other party.
    This results from a Pa.
    Supreme court decision: commonwealth Vs. Rekasie 566 Pa. 85 (Pa. Sup. Ct. 2001) essentially changed the effect of the law to a single-party consent.

    Also, regarding the Mel Gibson tapes. They are legal in Court regardless. This is because the tapes have been broadcast publicly – even if they were taped illegally. They essential become legal once they are publicly broadcast.
    This was the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in BARTNICKI v. VOPPER (99-1687) 200 F.3d 109, affirmed.

    • Michael Viola
      July 17, 2010 at 10:50 pm | #7

      I am not sure that I agree with your readings of these cases. In Rekasie, the issue was whether the Commonwealth needed to obtain a ruling by the Court that there was probable cause to record the conversation between a third party and a cooperating informant. I would be surprised if the Court wanted to open up the flood gates and allow any two people to start recording their conversations.

      Also, in Bartnicki, the US Supreme Court was balancing privacy concerns against the interest in publishing matters of public importance. I do not know if the rantings of a celebrity to his ex-girlfriend qualify as public importance.

      I may be mistaken in my reading of these cases. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Anonymous
    July 19, 2010 at 5:04 am | #8

    I cannot believe this is true!

  6. Anonymous
    July 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm | #9

    This is really unbelivable. I cannot believe in this article.

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