Note: This page covers information specific to New Jersey. For general information concerning the use of recording devices see the Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings section of this guide.
New Jersey Wiretapping Law
New Jersey's wiretapping law is a "one-party consent" law. New Jersey makes it a crime to intercept or record an in-person or telephone conversation unless one party to the conversation consents. N.J. Stat. §§ 2A:156A-3, -4. (link is to the entire code; you need to click through to Title 2A, Article 156A, and then locate the specific provisions). Thus, if you operate in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey 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?: New Jersey for more information on New Jersey wiretapping law.
New Jersey Law on Recording Court Hearings and Public Meetings
New Jersey law places restrictions on your ability to make sound and video recordings in state courtrooms. First, the New Jersey Supreme Court guidelines permit audio and video recording for future broadcast only by those with "bona fide press credentials" issued by the New Jersey Press Association or those with identification from a "bona fide media outlet," defined as an "organization that reports the news and whose news reports are made available to the general public by being published or broadcast on a regular schedule by television, radio, retail sales, or by subscription where there is no membership or dues requirement to subscribe." This could present a substantial obstacle for amateur and other non-traditional journalists and online publishers. Second, you must make a request for permission a reasonable time in advance, and the court may limit media coverage where it has the potential to harm parties or witnesses. You may, however, appeal any denial of coverage to a state appellate court (if coverage was denied by a district court) or to the State Supreme Court (if coverage was denied by an appellate court). Recording devices are prohibited in certain particularly sensitive types of proceedings, such as those involving juveniles. In addition, the court may place restrictions on the number of cameras allowed into a courtroom at a particular time. For more detailed information, please consult the Supreme Court Guidelines for Still and Television Camera and Audio Coverage of Proceedings in The Courts of New Jersey.
Federal courts in New Jersey, 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.
New Jersey law allows sound and video recording devices in public meetings (i.e., meetings of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law), subject to reasonable restrictions, such as advance notice, that generally track those imposed in state courtrooms (above).
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: New Jersey.