Note: This page covers information specific to North Carolina. For general information concerning the use of recording devices see the Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings section of this guide.
North Carolina Wiretapping Law
North Carolina's wiretapping law is a "one-party consent" law. North Carolina makes it a crime to intercept or record any "wire, oral, or electronic communication" unless one party to the conversation consents. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287. Thus, if you operate in North Carolina, 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 North Carolina wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-296.
Consult the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: North Carolina for more information on North Carolina wiretapping law.
North Carolina Law on Recording Court Hearings and Public Meetings
You may use a tape recorder in North Carolina state courtrooms if you obtain the permission of the presiding judge. You may use other recording devices, such as cameras, if you get the permission of the judge and keep them partitioned away from and unobserved by participants in the courtroom. The presiding judge may waive this requirement in certain cases. Only two video cameras and one still photographer are allowed in the court room at a given time, and coverage of certain types of sensitive cases (e.g., trade secrets cases, divorce cases) is prohibited.
Federal courts in North Carolina, 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.
North Carolina law gives you the right to make sound and video recordings of public meetings (i.e., meetings of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law). The governmental body may "regulate the placement and use of equipment necessary for broadcasting, photographing, filming, or recording a meeting, so as to prevent undue interference with the meeting," but the body must allow equipment to be placed within the meeting room so as to permit its intended use, and "the ordinary use of such equipment shall not be declared to constitute undue interference." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-318.14.
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: North Carolina.