Q: Will a Civil Court admit a secret audio recording (recorded for purpose of collecting criminal acts) as for evidence?
If a person believes that some criminal actions had been going on against him such as unlawful defamation with false claims, violent criminal assault in making extreme noises to disturb peace and in obstructing his path through a hallway (the violent manner and actions could be deemed as false imprisonment), racial discrimination and sexual harassment... that person take action to make secret audio recordings so as to gather the information of the violators' criminal acts as evidences to be presented in court to prove a lawsuit to the judge or jury against the violators, will the court consider to admit those recordings as evidences? If the court rejects the recording as the evidence, will the audio recording party be then charged with violating the law, and the parties to be secretly recorded could successfully sue the recording party in civil court to compensate the "loss" they may claim that they would "have"?
A: The key to Penal Code section 632, which prohibits the introduction into evidence and makes it a crime to record another person without consent, is that the communication recorded must be a "confidential communication" as defined in that statute. So if you are recording the other person (whether or not you believe they have committed or are committing a crime) in a private place (e.g. hallway, closed room) where no others are present and the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. that the conversation will be private), then you are guilty of a crime and can be prosecuted.
Penal Code section 632 makes a recording done without the knowledge of one of the parties to a conversation both a crime and a civil wrong if one of the parties to the conversation reasonably believes the conversation is confidential. If found to be in violation of Penal Code section 632, you can be subject to criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor, but that rarely happens. More common is you are subject to a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation per victim. There are some exceptions to this law, and if you intend to secretly record someone it would be wise for you to first seek out specific confidential advice from an attorney who can be allowed to know all of the facts and circumstances.
Good luck to you.
Yelena Gurevich agrees with this answer
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