Reporter's Recording Guide
Last updated May 2020Compare
An individual who has the consent of at least one party to an in-person conversation can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, but the consent of all parties is required to record or disclose the existence or contents of a telephone conversation.
The state also prohibits visual recordings in violation of its hidden camera law.
Violators of the recording law are subject to both criminal and civil penalties, while the hidden camera law has criminal penalties.Compare
It is unlawful to surreptitiously record “any private conversation engaged in by ... other persons” unless authorized to do so by one of the parties to the conversation. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.650.
Because the law explicitly applies only to private conversations, a journalist does not need consent to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.Compare
Telephone and electronic communications
Nevada requires an individual to get the consent of all parties to a telephone call before it may be recorded. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620. Additionally, the Nevada Supreme Court held that this requirement also applies to both cellphone calls and text messages. Sharpe v. Nevada, 350 P.3d 388 (Nev. 2015).
The law permits an exception in emergencies, but the Nevada Supreme Court stated that the one-party-consent recording authorized in those situations applies mainly to law enforcement officers who proceed without a warrant. Lane v. Allstate Ins. Co., 969 P.2d 938 (Nev. 1998). Thus, it is unlikely to serve as a defense for journalists who record phone conversations without the required all-party consent.Compare
It is a misdemeanor to photograph or film the private body parts of a person in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; to use a hidden camera, regardless of whether a person is in a public or private place, to “up-skirt” or “down-blouse,” or secretly photograph or film that person under or through his or her clothing; and to disclose any images obtained by these means. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.604.
The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby).Compare
Illegally recording or disclosing an in-person or telephone conversation is a felony offense punishable with one to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130, 200.690.
The first violation of the hidden camera law is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, with greater penalties for subsequent violations. Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.140, 200.604.Compare
Anyone whose in-person or telephone conversation has been recorded or disclosed in violation of the law can bring a civil suit to recover the greater of actual damages, $100 a day for each day of the violation or $1,000, and can recover punitive damages, attorney’s fees and court costs as well. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.690.Compare
Nevada makes it a felony to disclose the existence or contents of an in-person or telephone conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 200.630, 200.650.
The hidden camera law also prohibits the disclosure of recordings made in violation of that law. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.604.
If a journalist received an illegally recorded conversation and was not involved in the illegal conduct, the First Amendment likely protects the publication of such material, to the extent it is a matter of public concern and truthful. See Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001). For more information, see this guide’s introductory chapter here.Compare
Right to record government officials in public
A growing consensus of courts have recognized a constitutional right to record government officials engaged in their duties in a public place. This First Amendment right to record generally encompasses both video and audio recording. For more information on the right to record broadly, see this guide’s introductory chapter here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which includes Nevada, has held that there is a First Amendment right to record matters of public interest in public places, which “includes the right to record law enforcement officers engaged in the exercise of their official duties in public places.” Askins v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 899 F.3d 1035, 1044 (9th Cir. 2018); see also Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436 (9th Cir. 1995).Compare