Want to Record a “Karen”? Know the Rules!

September 13, 2021 News & Announcements

In our world today, it has become second nature for us to grab our phones out of our back pocket when we see someone acting less than appropriate in public. As videos of “Karens” have overwhelmed the internet, many of whom say things like “you can’t record me!” to baffled onlookers, it is imperative to know when you can and can’t legally record someone in public. If you would like to read about the origin of the term “Karen” and what it means to fall into this category, you can do so here.

One-Party vs. All-Party Consent

Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 2511, requires one-party consent, meaning you are free to record a phone call or conversation if you are party of the conversation. Therefore, if you are not a party to the conversation, you can only record a conversation or phone call if one of the party’s knows of the recording and gives their consent to the communication being recorded. This differs from all-party consent, which means that every party in the conversation or phone call must consent to being recorded.

The rules behind recording others in public depend on whether you live in a one-party vs. two-party consent state. Most states have tried to mimic the federal statute by enacting the one-party consent law. Approximately 36 states have one-party consent laws, however, Florida is one of the outliers who, under most circumstances, requires consent from all parties. However, it is important to note that the federal and state statutes only apply to conversations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you would like to read about the test used to determine if there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, click here.

Florida Law

The laws regarding security of communications and surveillance are codified in Section 934.03 of the Florida Statutes. Florida is an all-party consent state, so each party in a private conversation must consent to the recording. Depending on the offender’s intent and criminal history, violating this law will either result in a misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Every unlawful recording constitutes its own charge, and it is also a third-degree felony every time you distribute the unlawful recording.

So, can I Record a “Karen” in Florida?

If your interaction with an individual deemed as a “Karen” occurs in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, you are legally permitted to record. This applies to conversations in public, not just public outbursts commonly linked to “Karens”, as well as public speeches.

Remember, the rules are slightly different if you are recording the police. If you would like to read more about the law in Florida when it comes to recording the police, you can do so here.

*The information on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.*

This article was written by Sarah Kamide

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