Generally, yes. Lawfully obtained relevant evidence is generally admissible. In Oklahoma, it is legal to record a conversation if at least one party to the conversation knows about and consents to the recording.
In other words, if a person secretly records a conversation with another person, that recording is lawful. If a person secretly records a conversation two unaware people are having, that recording is unlawful.
Oklahoma Recording Laws
Oklahoma’s Security of Communications Act (“OSCA”) makes it illegal to record an in-person or telephone conversation without the consent of at least one party or to record a communication with criminal or tortious intent. Okla. Stat. tit. 13, § 176.4.
That means even if a party records another party, if the recording party intends to use that recording for something like blackmail or extortion, making the recording itself is unlawful. Breaking the OSCA is a felony punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
The OSCA also applies to text messages and emails. The law defines wireless communications as “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature.” Okla. Stat. tit. 13, § 176.2.
It matters where the conversation takes place. Oklahoma law states that the consent of at least one party to a conversation is required to record any oral communication “uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstance justifying such expectation.” Okla. Stat. tit. 13, §§ 176.2, 176.4.
Consent is not required to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. If the two people talking have a reasonable expectation of privacy, a third party cannot lawfully record the conversation. But, for example, if the two people are yelling loudly in public, it could be lawful for a third party to record them. The same would be true for two people conversing in a setting such as a public seminar.
However, the law criminalizes “secret loitering around any building with the intent to overhear discourse therein” and to “repeat or publish” such discourse “to vex, annoy, or injure others.” Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1202.
Federal Laws and Interstate Recordings
The federal Wiretap Act makes it illegal to secretly record an oral, telephonic, or electronic communication that the conversing parties reasonably expect to be private. 18 U.S.C. § 2511.
However, a recording otherwise in violation of the Wiretap Act is legal if one person to the conversation consents to the recording, or the person making the secret recording is authorized by law. There is also an exception allowing employers to record phone calls on employer-owned phones provided to employees.
People also often want to know if they can record the police. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which includes Oklahoma, held that “there is a First Amendment right to film the police performing their duties in public.” Irizarry v. Yehia (10th Cir. July 11, 2022). The Tenth Circuit said this right “falls squarely within the First Amendment’s core purposes to protect free and robust discussion of public affairs, hold government officials accountable, and check abuse of power.”
Admissibility of Recorded Conversations in Oklahoma
Recorded conversations can be used as evidence so long as they were not illegally obtained.
How an Attorney Can Help You
If you have a question about whether you can record a conversation or whether someone else’s recording can be used against you, Davis Business Law would love to help you. Our Oklahoma business attorneys frequently handle situations like these, such as recordings made in business disputes with partners or customers. Call us today at (918) 900-0192 or contact us online for a free consultation.