Vermont Recording Law Summary:
Is Vermont a One Party Consent State?
Vermont law does not contain any provisions regarding the legality of recording or sharing any kind of audio-based conversations. This means that Vermont is considered a one-party consent state. However, the state Supreme Court has determined that it is a criminal offense to covertly and electronically monitor communications occurring in an person’s home. Vermont v. Geraw, 795 A.2d 1219 (Vt. 2002). A state high court upheld that an individual should not be under the expectation of privacy in a hospital’s emergency treatment section as any number of different people are frequently coming and going. Vermont v. Rheaume, 889 A.2d 711 (Vt. 2005). It is also considered lawful to record a conversation taking place in a parking lot for the same reason. Vermont v. Brooks, 601 A.2d 963 (Vt. 1991).
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Recording In-Person Conversations in Vermont
As Vermont does not have any state provisions regarding the legality of recording in-person conversations they default to Federal one-party consent law. This means that in the state of Vermont you need the consent of at least one person involved in the conversation in order to record them in an area where there is an expectation of privacy. This means that you are allowed to record conversations that occur in public areas where there is no expectation of privacy.
- Any conversation where you have the consent of at least one person involved.
- A public park where there is no expectation of privacy.
- In 2005 the state upheld that a hospital emergency room was not considered private as many people were coming and going.
- A government representative performing in an official capacity.
- Law enforcement in the line of duty (Note, you may record but not impede police).
Examples of Illegal Recordings in Vermont
In Vermont, it is against the law to make a recording of a conversation that you are not taking a part in. Some examples of this would be:
- Leaving a recording device in a room after you leave to record a conversation you are not part of.
- Aiming a surveillance camera into an area of a neighbour’s home where there is an expectation of privacy such as an interior window or bedroom.
Gaining Consent for Recording Conversations
If you are a third-party and require consent from the parties taking part in the conversation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that you may gain consent to make a recording by:
- Getting verbal or written consent prior to the recording being made.
- A verbal notification being played before the conversation begins. (For example: “This phone call is being recorded for quality control purposes…”).
- An audible beep tone being repeated at steady intervals during the duration of the conversation.
Vermont Video Recording Laws
Vermont’s voyeurism statute criminalizes the following:
- Capturing photographs or video of an individual’s “intimate areas”.
- Capturing photographs or video of an individual engaged in a sexual act in a situation where they should be able to expect privacy.
- Capturing and/or sharing photographs or video of an individual within a residence when they should be able to expect privacy. For example, surveilling your neighbor’s backyard or any part of the neighbor’s residence is illegal because he or she is entitled to privacy in that residence.
However, it is lawful to use recording devices for other reasons in areas open to the public or elsewhere in situations where one should not be under the expectation of privacy. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605 (2012).
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605(b), (d), (e)
Can someone record you without your permission?
Taking photographs or shooting videos in public places is not illegal unless it’s for nefarious purposes. However, keep in mind that many seemingly public places such as Malls are in fact, privately owned; in this case, you’ll have to follow the rules that they have put in place.
Taking photos or videos of someone where there is the expectation of privacy is a breach of privacy laws. Examples of this would be in someone’s home.
If you are recording someone’s likeness for business purposes, you should ensure that you gain proper consent by having them fill out a photo or video consent form.
Vermont Surveillance Laws
Vermont’s does not have a specific surveillance law, which means that the 2 laws that most often apply are the federal eavesdropping and state voyeurism laws. This means that surveillance cameras are completely legal, however, you are prohibited from capturing private areas or the private areas of anyone else. What this means is that you are allowed to put surveillance cameras in areas where there is no expectation of privacy. You are not allowed to point them into a neighbours fenced backyard or interior windows where there may be an expectation of privacy.
Additionally, as Vermont is considered a one party consent state, if you are recording audio you will need to gain the consent of at least one party. Because of this, it is best practice to not record audio when you are utilizing surveillance cameras in Vermont.
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605(j): Violating Vermont’s voyeurism laws is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or fine not exceeding $2000. For second and subsequent offenses, violators may be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $5000, or both.
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605(j): Displaying or disclosing to a third party images obtained in violation of Vermont’s voyeurism laws is illegal and punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or fine not exceeding $5000, or both.