Note: This page covers information specific to the District of Columbia. For general information concerning the use of recording devices see the Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings section of this guide.
DC Wiretapping Law
The District of Columbia's wiretapping law is a "one-party consent" law. DC makes it a crime to record a phone call or conversation unless one party to the conversation consents. See D.C. Code § 23-542. Thus, if you operate in DC, you may record a conversation or phone call if you are a party to the conversation or you get permission from one party to the conversation in advance. That said, if you intend to record conversations involving people located in more than one state, you should play it safe and get the consent of all parties.
In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the DC wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.
Consult The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: District of Columbia for more information on DC wiretapping law.
DC Law on Recording Court Hearings and Public MeetingsCourt Hearings
District of Columbia "state" courts prohibit recording in both trial and appellate courtrooms.
Federal courts in the District, at both the trial and appellate level, prohibit recording devices and cameras in the courtroom.
For information on your right of access to court proceedings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide.
The District of Columbia has no statutory provision about the use of recording devices or cameras at public meetings (i.e., meetings of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law), but the government body holding the meeting generally must make transcripts of the meeting available for public copying.
For information on your right of access to public meetings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Open Government Guide: District of Columbia.