A good friend is being harassed by his neighbor, and is at the end of his wits trying to get some recourse. Essentially the neighbor is belligerent: comes out when family members are home specifically to verbally harass them, trashes the area around their house by blowing lawn debris or placing garbage around it, puts signs in his yard that points to their property to shame them, the list goes on.

They do not have property surveillance, so the attempt thus far has been to hide a cell phone with recording on when he comes out to harass them from his driveway, photo-document the trash/signs, etc. The police can't typically do anything in this dispute because a crime hasn't actually been committed, even with video evidence of verbal harassment.

Being said, in exasperation the friend has uploaded videos documenting the issue to a video-sharing site. I suspect there are Florida statutes that, regardless of reason, prohibit this manner of recording where the harasser is at home (a time/place which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy), does not know about the recording, and it has been disseminated online in a manner which would shame the harasser in the eyes of someone reasonable.

I'd like to think this is in violation of FL 810.145 but the language there is almost specific for recording someone dressing or through their clothes. Am I correct in my thinking?

As a side question, for such disputes, would the best course of action be to collect good audiovisual evidence and then file a harassment claim and just prove it in court?

2 Answers 2


FL 810.145 (c) - "Place and time when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy"

In Florida, there is no expectation of privacy in public. You can legally record both audio and visual anything you can see in public.

As for the harassment, set up security cams and record as much of it as possible in order to provide the Police with evidence of any potential crimes.


The voyeurism statute would not seem to be applicable, since the various clauses involve something sexual or exposing sex organs. Florida is a two-party consent state, meaning that you can't record oral communication without consent of the parties to the communication (Chapter 934). If the neighbor doesn't communicate orally, you might think that the recording is allowed. And it might be, but the statute circularly says

“Oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation

Since it is not self-evident that there is no expectation of privacy in your yard, and it is not self-evident that videotaping is not "intercepting oral communication" (yes, there were a lot of nots in that), abundance of caution would dictate that it is not safe to take such videos. A plain-language analysis of "oral communication" would indicate that taping a person's action of spreading trash doesn't constitute communication, but laws aren't always interpreted according to literal meaning of words. Recording the verbal harassment would, needless to say, be illegal without consent of the neighbor, since verbal harassment is oral communication.


Under Florida statute 934, recording an oral communication is subject to what is widely misnamed the "wiretapping" law. "Oral communication" is simply defined as an oral communication, with the additional proviso regarding expectations of interception. "Interception" includes as "acquisition of the contents of any ...oral communication through the use of any ...device". There are exceptions such as "using a hearing aid", which are not applicable.

934.03 (1)(a) identifies the act of "Intentionally intercept[ing]...any ...oral...communication", as well as (c) "intentionally disclos[ing]; and it says that a person who does this shall be punished. There are then "notwithstanding" clauses such as "authorized by law to intercept". 934.03 (3)(d) states the applicable two-party consent requirement that

It is lawful under this section and ss. 934.04-934.09 for a person to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication when all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to such interception.

(emphasis added). In the applicable context, the neighbor verbally harrassing the friend would constitute an oral communication between the neighbor and the friend. We may assume that the friend consents to the interception sine he is making the recording; in Florida, though, consent from the neighbor is also required.

While it may be the case that the original legislative intend behind such law was to prohibit law enforcement from literal wire-tapping, the wording of the statute is broader. The law applies to "any person who", not just law enforcement. There is no clause that says that "this law only applies to law enforcement". Since the neighbor is on his property, that passes one of the fundamental tests of expectations of privacy. We have no evidence that the neighbor was acting in a publicly-demonstrative way in a fashion indicating that he was communicating the harassment to the world at large. though that would be the obvious tack for the friend to take to defend himself against charges of violating tat law.

  • 1
    How are oral utterances made in public "not subject to interception"? If one speaks in one's own yard with sufficient volume that the speech can be recorded from a neighboring yard or the street, one can't reasonably have an expectation of privacy.
    – phoog
    Mar 6, 2016 at 3:38
  • I don't understand your first question: the question is whether non-verbal actions constitute "oral communication" from the POV of that law. Defining an oral communication as an oral communication is pretty pointless, i.e. circular. If you notice the last sentence of my answer, I note that the verbal harassment part does fall within the ambit of this statute, so what is at issue is whether the non-verbal video aspects of the recording would also be covered.
    – user6726
    Mar 6, 2016 at 6:06
  • My question was a challenge to your assertion that the verbal harassment falls under the statute, with which I disagree. Furthermore, I've now had a closer look at the law and I don't see how it applies at all here; it seems to govern what investigators can do when they are monitoring communications between a suspect and a third party about a crime; I don't see how it applies to a person who is recording harassing speech (where the speech itself is the crime). But that aside, I don't think the harasser has a reasonable expectation that this speech would not be subject to interception.
    – phoog
    Mar 7, 2016 at 6:30
  • The edit explains to you why verbal harassment, as a specific kind of oral communication, is covered by the statute.
    – user6726
    Mar 7, 2016 at 18:31
  • Yeah, okay, I'm still not entirely convinced, but you are right that I have assumed the neighbor was shouting; for all I know, he was speaking in a quiet voice. If the person continues to speak even though he sees he's being recorded by the party he's addressing, would that constitute consent?
    – phoog
    Mar 7, 2016 at 22:04

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