Select Page

Washington Recording Laws

Washington Recording Law Summary:Washington recording law

Washington recording law stipulates that it is a two-party consent state. In Washington, it is a criminal offense to use any device to record communications, whether they are wire, oral or electronic, without the consent of everyone taking part in the conversation. This means that in Washington you are not legally allowed to record a conversation you are taking part in unless all parties are in agreement. In order for recorded communications to be considered lawful, at least one participant must announce their intention to record the conversation to all contributing parties and include this announcement in the recording. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.73.030 (West 2012).

Personal Conversations:

You may not record conversations without including proof of consent from all involved parties within the recording in question. 

Washington law does make an exception in cases where the person or people communicating are doing so in an environment where they should not be under the expectation of privacy. The courts consider three factors in determining whether a conversation qualifies as private and is therefore protected under the state’s wiretap provisions. Lewis v. Washington, 139 P.3d 1078 (Wash. 2006).

  1. The topic and length of communication.
  2. Where the communication took place and whether a third party did or could have overheard.*
  3. The actions of the party who did not consent and their relationship with the party who did.

*Washington’s Supreme Court has decided that the presence of a third party typically disqualifies a conversation as private. Washington v. Clark, 916 P.2d 384 (Wash. 1996).

Penalties:

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.73.080: Secretly recording an oral or electronic conversation is considered a gross misdemeanor.