Is it legal for a minor to make an audio recording of his parents engaging in abuse?

If so, is it also legal once that child is an adult for him to publicize those recordings?

Interested in U.S. law, but if state is necessary use Maryland.

  • 2
    Is it legal? Yes, no, maybe, maybe not - it depends on the jurisdiction and applicable legislation.
    – Rock Ape
    Nov 16 '20 at 12:10
  • @Ri I could not even. I could have spelled that out, but you're correct, in terms of what the lawyers specifically said to me, that was the general lengthier sentence, and quote "Is it legal? Yes, no, maybe, maybe not - it depends on the jurisdiction and applicable legislation." verbatim, so that must be a line they're using alot. Nov 16 '20 at 12:14
  • 6
    So what's the jurisdiction - country, state, province? And what's the purpose of the recording - a criminal complaint, civil action or something else?
    – Rock Ape
    Nov 16 '20 at 12:23
  • 6
    To make this determination, you would need to give State level jurisdiction as some states are one party consent (so long as one person in the conversation agrees, you can record) while others are two party consent (all parties must agree to recording for it to be legal) and even then, where it happened and the reasonable expectation of privacy can change the nature of the question (i.e. You don't normally need consent to record something in a public setting but do in a private setting.). Finally, since laws might have changed it could have been legal then but illegal now.
    – hszmv
    Nov 16 '20 at 13:02
  • 2
    What sort of fanfare did you expect? Generally we don't have any fanfare for people accepting edits. Edits are fairly routine. I've made or approved thousands personally; rarely if ever is there any response to that.
    – Ryan M
    Nov 17 '20 at 18:19

Per your comment responses, Maryland is a two party consent state which means that the other party must consent to your recording IF there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. In one's own home is generally considered a place where one has this expectation and thus these recordings are problematic. Depending what you intend to do with them, I would first contact a lawyer to get legal advice as to how to handle this before you publish them. If you are looking to file a criminal complaint (and assuming statute of limitations hasn't run out) the prosecutor may be willing to not prosecute you for violating 2 party consent law because you were trying to gather evidence of someone else's crime, but it's not a guarantee (though this will look bad on the prosecutor come election season).

If you are suing your parents it might not be admissible as evidence but I can't specifically say that either.

If you are using it to show other people in the same situation what to look for it's probably best to find another set of recordings as these ones carry a lot of legal issues that will come back to bite you if you release them.

Finally, while not legal, your parents may not want to pursue the criminal recording side of this matter if they are aware of the "Barbra Streisand effect," wherein actions taken to ensure something isn't viewed by the public cause that something to gain wider viewership than if they never bothered trying to censor it.

  • I appreciate that definitely gives a legal perspective to almost all the angles I felt pained by, back then it felt like a trip. I guess that's the legal language for mental health problems at home on a jurisdictional level. I remember feeling bothered early about how countering the family issue felt like a paparazzi/spying issue too, for a kid with parents like that that's their entire world. Being at home matters and may not help (in terms of just recording as matter of fact), being at home hurts you legally, in terms of gathering mental health evidence. Home matters are privileged terribly. Nov 16 '20 at 14:20
  • 3
    "these ones carry a lot of legal issues that will come back to bite you" - and not just legal issues. The parents would be likely to retaliate. Nov 17 '20 at 18:19
  • @JohnDvorak +1 If there was one thing my edits in law.stackexchange.com/posts/58157/revisions were written by me to be clear, it's that I did not ask to create this impending sense of doom here, which w/ your comment happened in under 1h literally immediately after my question writing was edited for "friendliness", versus my careful tone and wording which normally buffers such reactions. I sympathize you read the current version that way, I did not write my original testimony I mean original question with the words to imply I was going to share the original recordings, I talked Past. Nov 17 '20 at 19:15

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