Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

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Latest post 10-09-2012 10:59 PM by jammerchell. 6 replies.
  • 04-03-2012 11:31 PM

    • kadini
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 04-04-2012
    • WA
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    Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    I wish to install video and audio surveillance equipment outdoors on my residential property in Washington state. I am concerned about potential criminal liability if a converstaion were to recorded without the knowledge of all parties.

    I am posting here under Criminal Law because I don't know where else to put this. If there's a better category to post this under I'm open to suggestions.

    I'm pretty confident the video cameras (already installed) are fine in terms of not violating any laws, with or without warning signs. For the record, the cameras only view my property. Any place they encroach on neighboring property I use the built in filtering to block out anything not within my boundaries. Also, the cameras are tripped by motion detectors that point (95%) towards my property.

    Where I'm concerned is the audio part. Washington law says basically no conversation can be recorded by any means without consent of all persons involved. There are some exceptions to this but mostly they don't cover any scenarios I can envision.

    So, if I do put up the microphones, will I be exluded from any criminal and civil liability if I put up clearly visible warning signs stating the property is under 24/7 audio and video surveillance. The signs would all be on my property but at places where mcirophones are near the boundary I'd put them on the outside of the fence.

    I want a good, well researched written answer. I'm willing to pay for it but I can't find a lawyer who will step up to being knowldgeable on this subject. A referral (Seattle area, eastside) would be welcome.

    Hope somebody out there can help.

    Thanks.

  • 04-04-2012 12:14 AM In reply to

    Re: Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    kadini:

    So, if I do put up the microphones, will I be exluded from any criminal and civil liability if I put up clearly visible warning signs stating the property is under 24/7 audio and video surveillance. The signs would all be on my property but at places where mcirophones are near the boundary I'd put them on the outside of the fence.

    You don't need a lawyer and you don't have to pay for the research because it's already been done for you at:

    http://www.rcfp.org/can-we-tape/washington

    I quote the following:

    • All parties generally must consent to the interception or recording of any private communication, whether conducted by telephone, telegraph, radio or face-to-face, to comply with state law. Wash. Rev. Code § 9.73.030. The all-party consent requirement can be satisfied if "one party has announced to all other parties engaged in the communication or conversation, in any reasonably effective manner, that such communication or conversation is about to be recorded or transmitted."

    I don't know if you've read the actual statutes or not, but you can read them at:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9.73

    One of the nice things about WA statutes is that they are generally written in plain English and are easy to understand.

    Here's another quote from Can We Tape:

    • A party is determined to have consented to recording if he is aware that the recording is taking place. Washington v. Modica, 149 P.3d 446 (Wash. Ct. App. 2006).

    You can read the full decision at:

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1069950.html

    My conclusion is that you would be legal in recording video and audio on your property by posting signs.

     

     

     

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 04-04-2012 1:52 AM In reply to

    Re: Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    adjuster jack:
    My conclusion is that you would be legal in recording video and audio on your property by posting signs.

    I disagree with Jack's conclusion. It's not that clear what the audio will capture, and if it captures conversations taking place on neighboring properties, then signs on your own property may not be sufficient to put those persons on notice of the recording.

    That's one of the reasons why many security videos don't have audio. Why do you feel you need the audio? What do you think it will give you that you won't get from the video?

    adjuster jack:
    You don't need a lawyer and you don't have to pay for the research because it's already been done for you at:

    I also disagree with Jack's view that you don't need a lawyer and that the very brief summary on that website somehow answers this specific issue — it doesn't. It's critical that you get an opinion from a Washington lawyer given exactly how the audio will be done. You should NOT rely on conclusions provided by persons here, particularly non-lawyers who don't have all the facts and haven't done the full research on the matter. I urge you to continue searching for a lawyer to assist with this if you really want to do it. Unfortunately I have no recommendations to make on a lawyer for you, but I have little doubt that there are lawyers in Washington who can give you competent advice on this.

  • 04-04-2012 2:13 AM In reply to

    • LG81
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 01-03-2010
    • Posts 4,338

    Re: Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    kadini:

    I want a good, well researched written answer. I'm willing to pay for it but I can't find a lawyer who will step up to being knowldgeable on this subject. A referral (Seattle area, eastside) would be welcome.

    You can contact the Washington State Bar for referrals.  I don't believe anyone on this site is allowed to make referals.  There are many great attorneys on the eastside in Bellevue, Bothel, Redmond, and Woodinville.  I'm not as familiar with attorneys on the southeast side like Renton, etc.  If you cannot find an attorney on the eastside, you can probably easily find one in Seattle.  Downtown isn't too far to drive if you are very concerned about this matter. 

     

  • 04-04-2012 12:56 PM In reply to

    Re: Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    Using video ONLY is the way to stay on the safe side until you decide whether or not audio is worth a lawyer's fee...to probably say no.

    Many states put the kibosh on audio.

     

  • 04-04-2012 3:56 PM In reply to

    • kadini
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 04-04-2012
    • WA
    • Posts 2

    Re: Audio and Video Surveillance in Washington State

    I appreciate the responses.

    I think I AM actually OK to record audio and video within the confines of my property with warning signs. But, as noted above it's at the edges where I'm worried.

    I will not install microphones there until I'm sure I have firm legal footing.

    Again, I have had little luck finding a lawyer willing to give advice on this. What field should I be looking in? Is criminal law the right area?

    If i send a note to the Washington state bar association will they give referrals? I guess that's my real question, how to find the right lawyer or firm.

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