View Full Version : Audio recorder while carrying

February 23, 2006, 10:41 AM
I carry a 9 mm routinely. I also carry a small audio recorder that makes a digital recording of the local sound. The thing is small (1" x 4" x 3/4"), cheap ($80), and records 16 hrs - Olympus VN-960PC. It is reliable. The point is - if I run into someone who attempts armed robbery on me, and I end up shooting him, the recording could help in my defense. I may record him speak some threat against my life. I was walking in my neighborhood not long ago, and some yokel was walking his two dogs off leash. One of them, about 80 lbs, approached to a few feet away and was growling and had his hackles up when the owner said, "Get him." My hand went to my hip, under my shirt, but I did not draw. The owner/moron said he was kidding; that the dog was friendly. If I had quickly shot that dog, then the recording would have helped to prove that I was in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. What are your thoughts on routinely carrying a little recorder in the pocket, to remove the my word vs. your word problem in a shooting?

February 23, 2006, 11:23 AM
My thoughts are that you should post a link to where I could get one! A 16 hour digital recorder!!! WOW!!! You, sir, have the right idea. As you said, it could remove the "your word versus my word" if it came down to it. Make sure that if it comes to that, you have your lawyer review the tape. Make sure not to let it get siezed by the police. Depending on if they have an agenda, you can either kiss your recording goodbye, or they'll use anything on there they can find to tar and feather you.

February 23, 2006, 12:00 PM
legalities? Wouldnt people you activly encounter need to know? I dont know, just thinking from another angle.

February 23, 2006, 12:31 PM
Careful....President Nixon learned the hard way that recordings can really hurt ya'. :p I don't know whether you would have needed the recording in the dog situation; those who walk a dog (especially a large dog) without a leash can't complain much when the dog gets into trouble.

My concern is what the digital recorder doesn't/can't record. If it doesn't record a threat (mechanical problem, audio level insufficent to record, non-verbal threat, etc.), then someone could easily assert that there was no threat, right? After all, no threat is discernable from the recording. And if you say something that is, shall we say, unwise (which can happen during or after a stressful event), the recording stands to do more harm than good.

On a (probably irrelevant) related matter, I wouldn't be comfortable around someone who is recording everything all of the time. And if you aren't recording all of the time, then you just have another switch to worry about in a stressful situation.

February 23, 2006, 01:10 PM
seems kind of elaborate to me.

February 23, 2006, 01:31 PM
In a perfect world, I'd say it's a great idea.

But something tells me in the real world it may not be.

By recording an unfortunate event involving yourself, you are creating evidence. When the police arrive, you'll have to give it to them if you are arrested. Even if your lawyer gets there first and you let him listen to it to decide how to handle it, I suspect it's illegal for him to hide the fact that it exists.

Recorded evidence is sometimes not what it seems. There was a thread on TFL a short while ago involving a guy videotaping (no sound) activities on his front porch. He shot somebody on camera. The video turned out more damaging than good to him, because it made the events look like he was the aggressor when he wasn't.

I'm not saying not to do it. Just to think about some of the unpredictable possibilities before you do.

I'd be curious to know what other people think about this.

February 23, 2006, 01:36 PM
As for the legality of recording an unknowing person, I think that's a fairly low-level crime. If I had a recording of a justifiable shooting and knew it would exonerate me, I would easily eat down the punishment for recording to avoid the punishment for murder.

Capt. Charlie
February 23, 2006, 01:57 PM
legalities? Wouldnt people you activly encounter need to know? I dont know, just thinking from another angle.
Federal wiretap laws only require that one person involved in the conversation be aware of the recording. I can legally tape a conversation between you and me, but I can't covertly tape a conversation between you and another person, unless you or the other party is aware of it.

Violation is a felony.

While I think you're probably going to waste miles and miles of tape :D , if you were to become involved in an incident, it would be priceless evidence in your defense.

Prior to the video recording systems in cruisers today, I carried a micro-cassette recorder routinely, and it saved my bacon more than once :cool: .

February 23, 2006, 01:58 PM
Public domain. If you're in public, it doesn't matter. Why do you think the papa razzi never get in trouble.

February 23, 2006, 02:13 PM
I wouldn't tape everything. I'm not clear if you tape everything all day or just parts of days, or just turn it on when you feel the need.

I wouldn't tape all the time - it is illegal here where I live - and I think it is extremely rude to tape someone without their knowledge - don't care where it's .gov or .com business or individuals - Whether it's audio or video - I think neither should be legal or allowed without a persons knowledge and/or consent. Also I feel the practical problems with it outweigh the possible benefits. As has been mentioned - some events might not pick up, be clear, or be understandable. Non-verbals will be missed entirely. Example, you shoot an individual in self-defense but the audio is not perfect - you say in court - the deceased said, "give me your money" - prosecutor has witness who swears no - it was "are you trying to be funny" play the tape all you want, but now no one, judge or jury is sure. Then prosecutor says so you were carrying a gun looking for trouble - you say no I just carry for self defense - prosecutor - so that's why you carry a tape recorder around to tape everything and everyone, just in case. In short order the prosecutor will have you protrayed as, and the jury convinced that you are, some kind of paranoid nut job - who was looking to shoot someone and had the tape recorder as part of the plan for an alibi as soon as some poor sucker said something close to threatening.

The above is an extreme example, but too much downside and not enough up side. Might be different if you had a specific threat - individual or situation that you were protecting yourself against.

February 23, 2006, 08:11 PM
I think that if you are carrying a audio recorder around to record what happens when you shot someone, the lawyers would try to use that as some kind of proof that you were "looking to get involved in a shooting".

If they'll try and say that using effective ammo (good hollowpoints or something of the like) shows that you're some kind of vigilante out looking to kill people, I can't see that any evidence captured by your recorder would do any good in court - only harm.

Roadkill Coyote
February 23, 2006, 08:34 PM
There is one valuable aspect to carrying an audio recorder that has been overlooked. It can also prove what YOU said, including any verbal warnings you issue, and any attempts you make to avoid or de-escalate the situation. Even if it does not catch a threat, it may prove what you did to try and avoid the situation, which is a good thing.

The only other thing I can think of is the manufacturers of recorders don't make them for recording all day in a shirt pocket, so you may need to get used to carrying it, and not accidentally turning it on and off in the pocket every time you adjust your clothes. Those buttons can be tricky, as I'm sure the original poster has already dicovered!

February 23, 2006, 08:38 PM
Nobody has mentioned that many cell phones can digitally record audio. That would help in your defense, should you record something. At least the "you were looking to shoot someone" thing would go away, if you were carrying a separate audio recorder. I know how to get mine to start recording without looking at my phone...I just memorized the keystrokes. That way, if there's ever an interesting conversation or activity taking place, I can start recording discretely. I have a new phone that is a camera phone, but my 2-year-old previous would even do voice recording. In my car, I have a $100 no-name-brand digital video recorder that uses an SD card for recording media. I just recharge the battery every weekend. I drive an hour each way from the suburbs to downtown Houston. There are plenty of things going on in this town that I may record no telling what someday.

Smoke Screen
February 23, 2006, 08:47 PM
I don't care what people say. Its a BRILLIANT idea. Why? I'll tell you out of personal experience. I don't have a CCW, so I don't carry one around with me. I do have a recorder in my car. I was pulled over on 2 different occasions, harrassed by police. The first time i didn't have a recorder, the second time I did. Guess what happened the second time? Thats right, the porker got cooked for being a biligerent sh!% head and lying in court. I'd carry a video cam, but I'm too paranoid of it being stolen from the vehicle. I say DO it. Any evidence that can support your argument is solid freakin gold. Some ppl think I'm paranoid, but I have proof that it works, and thats all I need. They can keep getting screwed if they want to. ;)

February 23, 2006, 11:10 PM
I work as a security supervisor at a college, and I have seen people get off too many times because it was simply "my word verse theirs" and the powers that be decided to side with the other person. Having a recording would have went a long way in helping my case. I have since learned and have a recorder with me whenever I am at work.

As far as the whole "out to get someone" idea, any good lawyer should be able to counter that arguement. Besides, there are plenty of people who carry a recorder for other reasons. My uncle happens to carry one simply to record, granted after the fact, anything interesting that happened during the day. One can simply have the recorder for any reason and happen to turn it on when something does come up.

About turning on the recorder, I know some recorders, including the one I have, have an option that they are always on, but they only record when the noise level reaches a certain point. While it is not perfect, it does help reducing what is recorded. This would eliminate the need to turn on one more switch.

About the issue of body language and un-stated elements not being recorded, that is true. The recorder would onlyl record the audio part. However, as long as you tell the truth, this can only help your credibility. While it may not be perfect, it would eliminate, at least in part, the "my word vs. your word" element and would help solidify your defense. While it is not a perfect way to record every part of an incident, it would record part of it, and is better than not recording any of it.

I say go for it.

February 24, 2006, 08:11 AM
I'd still like to see a link to this digital recorder. Or at LEAST a product and brand name so I can look it up!

February 24, 2006, 11:18 AM
SBrocker8: again, it is an Olympus VN-960PC. It is available at Walmart for $80. Olympus has a website that describes it. I tried an Aiwa, but it was completely unreliable. It kept shutting itself off. The Olympus can just be left on all day. There is no need to turn it off and on throughout the day. It is smaller than most spare magazines. It does not use up tape - it is an electronic memory. The recording can be downloaded via pc to a compact disc if desired. A full day would only take about one fourth of a cd, and a cd costs about 25 cents. Cost is really no issue. As far as using batteries, rechargables can be bought for around $10 - 20, recharger included, and so far they have continued to take a charge without needing to be replaced, after scores of rechargings.
As far as it being rude to record without someone's awareness, it will never even be listened to if there is no self-protection reason. Many people would also consider it a terrible thing if they knew you carried a concealed handgun in their presence. To carry one into the home of an unsuspecting person would be considered by many to be beyond the limits of civilized society. Yet, do we do that, or do we ask the permission of everybody before carrying in their presence?
It is legal - I asked an attorney.
As far as recording during a defensive incident in which there was nothing helpful to capture on the recording, I do not have to volunteer that I had it on me. If useful, I could introduce it. I understand that there would be nonverbal threats, but this could help with things that are said, such as "get him" by the dog owner.

February 24, 2006, 11:24 AM
As far as I know it is only illegal to record a phone conversation without telling the other person. Taping while out and about in public, I think you can do without any legal problems. SBrocker8 got it right, that is why all those surveillance cameras and the weirdos that film girls are allowed to do so. Don't get me started on those vultures, the paparrozzi.:mad:

February 24, 2006, 01:22 PM
I've seen a lot of "the recording can be used in your defense".

It could also be used against you.

There must be a reason that we do not speak to the police until our lawyer is present when it appears we're about to be arrested. My guess is that we might say something that doesn't seem to incriminate us but that actually does.

Same with a recording. You might think that since everything went down right, the recording will exonerate you, just like telling the police exactly how everything happened will. But that isn't how it works.

With the speaking situation, you can just shut up till your lawyer can get there to pass on what you say.

With the recorder, what are you going to do with it? What if you realize you have said something wrong? Are you sure there won't be any witnesses to your throwing it into a dumpster? If that happens, now you're caught destroying evidence. Not a way to convince a jury you're a good guy.

So you keep the recording and the police arrive. If you are arrested, and you haven't gotten rid of the recorder, they'll take all your stuff, including the recorder. It will be evidence, and the police are not going to let your lawyer edit it before they listen to it.

Say you decide to use your recorder to capture the neighborhood a$$hole who keeps walking by and insulting you. You somehow know he's not armed, but want to get evidence of his harassment. You turn on the recorder and sit outside and wait for him without your gun. He arrives, and a loud argument with threats ensues. It may not be clear who started it from an audio tape, but chances are it will help you more than hurt you if he indeed started it. The worst thing that could happen is it is misinterpreted and you are found guilty of simple assault, and likely serve no time. In this case, I'd say go ahead and use the recorder.

But if it's running while you are carrying and you happen to have to defend yourself using deadly force, then the stakes are a lot higher. Sure, the recording may exonerate you. But a backfire could mean manslaughter or murder for you. That recording could put you in a very nasty place.

February 24, 2006, 01:32 PM
Capt. Charlie

I think that some states have written statutes that are more restrictive about surreptitious recording.

I can't find the Florida statute (yet), but in the phone books down here there's a statement that it's illegal to record a phone conversation unless you notify the person on the other end that the recording is taking place. They probably list the statute, but I don't have a phone book at my desk.

The Federal law makes more sense, since if you are talking into a device that sends your voice to someplace out of your sight, you can't really claim to have an "expectation of privacy".

As for non-telephone recording, I don't know. Can you imagine a robber arguing in court that he had an expectation of privacy because, after all, it was a robbery and he didn't want to get caught?:D

February 24, 2006, 02:28 PM
I'd still like to see a link to this digital recorder. Or at LEAST a product and brand name so I can look it up!

They're called digital voice recorders. Sony, Olympus and Panasonic all make various models. They can be found at any decent electronics store or department store. Check Wal-Mart, Target, Best-Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack or your favorite online retailers.

They are small, have no moving parts, use very little power, and can record, depending on the size of their built-in memory, anywhere from 4 to over 100 hours of audio. Most of the decent ones can be hooked up to a PC using a USB cable to transfer the recordings directly to your hard drive. Some of the cheaper models lack this feature.

Hope that helps.

February 24, 2006, 02:47 PM
Bliv it or not, I actually hav don th sam thing xcpt with a standard rcordr with th tiny taps. I was able to rcord a dcnt amount of convrsation with it and at th nd of th day I would switch out th taps or listn to my convrsations. I have rcordd som prtty humorous situations and also trappd my wif admitting that sh chatd (latr usd in court). It sounds crazy but is absolutly tru! Today I do not carry th rcordr but lav it on my drssr in cas I nd it. Occasionally I hav a us for it. I would rcommnd gtting one bcaus you nvr know what you might nd to rcord. I apologiz for th misspllings but my kyboard brok and you can guss what ky is missing :) I will gt it fixd soon.

February 24, 2006, 03:26 PM
You spill Mountain Dew on your keyboard or something, son?

You know, isopropyl alcohol fixes that.

February 24, 2006, 03:39 PM

If only I knew which letter your keyboard is missing, I could read your message easier. Please post a message with that letter typed in it.

February 24, 2006, 03:48 PM
:D If you keep the recorder on all day, then you will record everything you don't want everyone else to hear. Remember that commerical (haven't seen it lately) where this businessman is driving in his car listening to kiddiee songs on his CD player "*The bus goes round and round....all though the town.*" and he gets a call saying that he needs an oil change. "how do you know" the guy asks. "your car told us." SCREECH* "what else did it tell you?" ;)

Capt. Charlie
February 24, 2006, 05:27 PM
Capt. Charlie

I think that some states have written statutes that are more restrictive about surreptitious recording.
That may very well be. Still, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would fault you for taping a robbery attempt, especially when you're the victim. Remember, we aren't talking about a sneaky taping of an idle conversation here. Here, the BG's defense atty. may squawk about the tape, but the prosecutor would credit you for quick thinking.

The Federal law makes more sense, since if you are talking into a device that sends your voice to someplace out of your sight, you can't really claim to have an "expectation of privacy".
"Expectation of privacy" is a can of worms. There are places where it's obvious that you do or you don't, but there are a ton of cases where that's a gray area. The courts have even ruled both ways on a phone booth. If you leave the door to the booth open, you have no expectation of privacy, but if you close it, you do. If the door isn't functional, you do. It's even been argued that facing the phone booth door, where others can see you talking, reduces your expectation of privacy :rolleyes: .

March 18, 2006, 09:12 AM
In Ohio a recorder is a great idea! If you get pulled over by the cops you are required to tell them immediately that you have a CCW even if you are not carrying at the time. Who's to say the cop is not an A_HOLE and says you didn't tell him, It would be nice if you could use a cell and transmit the conversation to a recorder in your home.
We have a great many arrogant cops around here. One who I work with told me that if I was carrying a gun I'd be looking down his!! I asked him how he would be justified in violating the law when I was in compliance, he said, "I am the law in my town!!" The Blatant Arrogance!!

March 18, 2006, 03:30 PM
I believe the missing letter is the one between "D" and "F" in the alphabet. Not a great challenge to figure out.

March 18, 2006, 08:24 PM
If you're taping you've got to do everything by the book in the event of an altercation. It's not just your evidence it's the other guy's too. Most eye witnesses will back you up and will lean twoard the hero, not the BG.

March 18, 2006, 10:24 PM
You guys would just use the tape to record that girl you met that said she'll go out with you one day and then never does and you can take the recording back to her and say, "Remember when...", "Here I have proof"