When you're watching either a detective/cop show or movie, there usually is one scene that we're all familiar with.

It usually involves someone trying to get a lead on a criminal by recording their phone calls. Most of the time, it appears that these "cops" have legal permission to perform some sort of wire tap so they can get the info that they need.

However, what if you're thinking of going down this route?

If you were to record a phone call, would it actually be a legal thing to do?

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In reality...it kind of depends.

Some of this knowledge is from a law class I took when I was a senior in college a few years ago. I took a course specifically on communications law, and this definitely falls into that category.

Maybe you're a journalist trying to get a scoop or maybe you're in the midst of a messy court battle and you want to record a conversation, either way this is something to take into consideration.

Publishing Private Information

If you want to PUBLISH private information, you've got to consider a few things.

According to legal precedent, there are instances where the publication of private information is lawful. However, depending on the situation it may be a direct violation of an individual's rights.

If the information is truthful but private and not of legitimate public concern AND highly offensive to any normal and reasonable person, then it's a no-go.


What About Actually Recording Phone Calls In Wisconsin?

If you are recording a conversation over the phone and the other person doesn't know, that's where you can get into a sticky situation.

It all depends if the state you are in is a one-party consent state.

That means, if you are talking with someone over the phone and you decide to record the call, then you legally can.

You are a part of the conversation, so you are one of the parties on the line. If you are recording your call, then you have given consent hypothetically.

Wisconsin is in fact a one-party consent state.

According to reports, if a person who is "a party to the conversation" or has gotten consent from one party on the line, then they can legally record said call.

"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."

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