Phoenix police recently released a secretly recorded conversation between Fred Knadler, owner of Arizona Shower Door Inc., and one of Knadler's employees. In the recording, Knadler reportedly offers the employee a large sum of money to dispose of the body of Knadler's wife, Libby, ABC News reports.
The employee-made recording arguably helped save Kandler's wife, Libby, from a gruesome fate. But the recording begs one question: under Arizona law, is it legal to secretly record a conversation?
At the time of the recording in January, Knadler was going through a contentious divorce and claimed that he wanted his wife dead because she demanded millions of dollars in the divorce settlement. Knadler turned to an employee, offering him money to bury his wife's body in a hole in a remote area. The employee secretly recorded the conversation.
"I'll give you a bundle to put in that hole," Knadler is heard saying to the employee. "I'm not telling you what's going to be in the bundle. It'll be wrapped in a blanket or sheet or something."
Soon after, the employee reported the incident to the police and handed in the recorded conversation. While the recording was obviously invaluable in this case, is it legal in Arizona to record a conversation without the other person's knowledge?
Under a federal statute, it is legal to record a conversation as long as at least one member of the conversation is aware that it's being recorded. This federal law is the blueprint for many state laws, including Arizona's recording law. Therefore, the employee's recording of his conversation with Knadler is completely legal because the employee was aware of it being recorded.
The majority of states share this one-person requirement. However, 12 states, including California and Florida, require that both parties to the conversation have knowledge that it's being recorded.
In all cases, it's illegal to record a conversation in which no participants are aware that they are being recorded.
While it's a bit disconcerting to think about having a conversation recorded without your knowledge, it's comforting to know that secret recordings can be an effective tool in preventing crimes, like those of which Fred Knadler is accused.
- Find a Phoenix Criminal Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Phoenix Man Accused of Conspiring to Kill Wife (ABC News)
- Arizona Shower Door Owner Tried to Kill Divorcing Wife? (FindLaw's Phoenix Family Law Blog)
- Jon Gosselin Tape Leaked: When May You Record Conversations? (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice Blog)