One major dilemma that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators sometimes come across is where one of the parties at a mediation wants to play a recording of a phone call that was surreptitiously made of the other party. As will be explained below, the problem is that the improper use modern technology can be illegal in the State of Florida.
Although modern technology can make it tempting to record a conversation, especially when a person is getting ready to file a petition for divorce or for a custody proceeding; Florida Statute § 934.03 makes it a felony of the third degree which is punishable for up to five years in prison to intercept any oral, wire or electronic communication without the knowledge of all parties to the conversation. It is important to note that § 934.03 does not only apply to telephone conversations but also to face-to-face conversations as well.
If you have ever received a phone call which begins with “this call may be monitored for training services” or for some other reason, the purpose of this type of statement is to give you notice that the conversation is being recorded so that the person or company on the other end of the call complies with Florida law.
Another dilemma that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have come across is where a party claims to have evidence of where the other party is spending time due to a GPS tracking device that was hidden on a motor vehicle. Based on the factual circumstances this could be a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both to knowingly install a tracking device or tracking application on another person’s property without that person’s knowledge or consent. Florida Statute § 934.425 defines a tracking application as “any software program whose primary purpose is to track or identify the location or movement of an individual” and a tracking device as “any device whose primary purpose is to reveal its location or movement by the transmission of electronic signals.” The key words in this statute are “another person’s property” so the issue is whether the property (for example car, computer, tablet, phone) is jointly owned. A person can place a tracking device or application on their own item(s) of personal property.
It is clear that how a person obtains information can have an impact on that persons’ personal freedom. At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators will not allow anyone to use illegally obtained information during a mediation.
Whether an audio recording of a conversation with a person’s spouse or significant other has been illegally obtained or a tracking device was improperly attached to personal property can be tough questions to answer. Before you take any type of these acts, you really should consult with an attorney to ascertain whether you might be breaking the law.