2017 version - audio recording hardware

Discussions on technology and its application and implications in divorce

2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby spritom » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:47 am

The audio/voice recorder can be an important tool to protect yourself.

    • States vary (and countries vary)
    • 1-Party State: Only 1 person in the conversation has to be aware of the recording (such as you)
    • 2-Party State: Both people (or all in some cases) have to be aware of the recording. In some states, they have to consent to it
    • 0-Party....not legal. You can’t leave the recorder running if you’re not part of the conversation (such as hiding the recorder somewhere)
    • Video recording
      o Video recording public places (your yard, driveway, etc.) without you being there with no audio is generally legal
      o Video recording (no audio) private places where there is “a reasonable expectation of privacy” without you there is generally illegal (bathrooms, etc.)
      o Video recording your living room, kitchen, hallway is in between (again, no audio)
      o Recording audio on your video puts you right back as the “1-party state” and “2-party state” legal concepts above

Concealed means concealed
    • Nobody sees it
    • Nobody knows about it
    • You don’t talk about it
    • You don’t play the recorder for your Ex (to prove something, to win something, etc.)
    • You don’t tell your ex about the recorder (depending on Legalities above)
    • The recording is to protect yourself from false allegations (such as those that could very much harm you, which can include false criminal accusations)
    • It’s very possible that the only time a recording ever sees the light of day is introduced as evidence for court

The Why
    • The recordings won’t get you extra stuff in family court
    • The recordings won’t get you extra time with kids in family court
    • 94%-ish of the benefit is to defend against a false allegation
      o She makes a false allegation that you committed a crime
      o You get investigated for criminal court proceedings
      o Possibilites include:
         Restraining Order / Order of Protection
         Domestic Violence criminal charge
         Other criminal charge
         Arrest
         Jail / Prison
      o All of these have a very harsh effect on your family court situation

The Where
    • Most always, the only place such a recording would see the light of day is in court.
    • This would generally be criminal court
    • There are some times recordings can be used in family court (the 6%)
    • The most common use is to show the other side’s accusation is false
    • The recording itself is rarely played even then, you’d be submitting both:
      o Printed transcript of conversation
      o Audio file of conversation
      o After making proper motions and the transcript is ruled/conceded to match the audio, then the court commonly goes off the printed transcript anyway. But the audio is to back up the transcript that it actually took place

The Bad Guy
    • Introducing a recording automatically puts you in the Possible Bad Guy Seat
    • Nevermind that the court itself records everything (and businesses, etc.). But the idea of private citizens recording, it still has a stigma of that you’re trying to catch somebody.
    • The other attorney will (and from a strategy attempt, he or she should try it) attempt to paint you or the recording as:
      o Out of context for what happened immediately before/after
      o You trying to just catch the other person
      o You were inciting the other person (maybe even just before the recording starts)
      o You were leading the questions to try to get the desired recording
      Recording all the time, before any engagement, and recording every interaction makes it so you can defend against those accusations

How often & Methods
    • Ideally, the recorder is already running 100% of the time you interact with the Ex.
    • Recording “just when you need it” is a recipe for the other side to argue (later) that you were baiting the conversation and that the recorded “snippet” is out of context. Recording all the time helps to negate that.
    • Recording (only) the children is a legal non-starter. You’ll likely be vilified for trying it even if the child spills the magic info that would have normally won the case…it’s simply not usable.
      o Exception: If you’re recording a situation with your Ex and the child happens to be there and says whatever (like at an exchange situation), that’s generally ok
      • Your situation will vary.
      o If not living in the same house, then perhaps recording only the times you interact with her – then you turn it on ahead of time before the meet-up/exchange/interaction.
      o If you still live in the same house with a pending divorce…first…yeah, that’s tough. For me while living in the same house during the divorce, I recorded 24/7 and slept in jeans with the recorder running. It also meant having 2 recorders because one would get full or batteries die at the wrong time.

    • Rechargeable = less expensive, some convenience of not dealing with batteries, and smaller designs. But if your battery finally dies, then your dead in the water on the recording side of things
    • Take batteries = takes batteries that you buy, limited to smallness by the battery (such as AAA batt), but on the plus side, if your battery dies and you have a spare, you’re up and recording again right away.
    • Saves to common computer audio file (such as MP3 or WAV)
    • Has LCD display = can make life easier to find out how to record quickly
    • Has an easy way to start a recording (some of them are kind of a pain to get through the weird menu)
    • Memory – Even 1GB memory will be enough for you to save 15-40 hours of audio (depending on the device’s compression settings). But these days with memory hardware prices way down, a 4GB device is the low end and is plenty of memory
    • Backing up the recordings – The most common is a USB plug/jack to connect the device to your computer. Back up the files, then you could even clean the device to make more room.
    • Security – These devices don’t have their own security. If you lose the device, anybody finding it will have your recordings. So another point for backing up to your computer.
    • Security note #2 – Save them to a secure place, that means saving it to a computer that that Ex doesn’t have physical access to. Or to some USB drive that you leave at a friend’s, at work, etc. Other options include saving to the cloud or encrypting your backed up on the computer recordings.

Technical issues:
    • Pocket - If it’s in your pocket, it records great...as long as you don’t move. Moving around, you’ll hear a rustling of clothing sound. But on the other hand, the rustling sound is an indication that you were moving (“Your honor, at this point I was trying to walk away from the NJ”)
    • Background noise on the street, etc. – this just makes things harder to hear on the recording
    • Close – 3 feet, 5 feet, 7 feet, should all be fine outside. Indoors, in the same room, probably still good (depends on the room)
    • Facing toward you, facing away – the recorder picks up much better for people facing you
    • External microphone (wearing “a wire”), sure, this is doable. It depends greatly on how you mount the wired mic how well it picks up. Some do great, others will be about the same as the original recorder. But 100% of them are simply extra work. 98.5%-ish of dads simply use the regular recorder fine by itself.

Classic-business-type voice recorder
    • Example: https://www.amazon.com/Digital-recorder ... B01N2THBS5
    • Pros:
      o Lots of models to choose from for price, storage space, etc.
      o Records audio well
      o Buttons/steps to record are clear and easy to do on the go
      o Can save to a number of file formats
      o Having a dedicated device does show that you recognized there was an issue well ahead of time
    • Cons:
      o Some models are pricey
      o They aren’t the smallest

Your smart phone:
    • Pros:
      o It’s with you
      o Records audio well
      o After the recording, tap-tap, and you can save it to the cloud (DropBox, etc.)
      o For most phones, it’s more a matter of a) which phone and b) which app. Some are excellent.
      o Having a phone in your hand is a common thing in society today (or on a belt clip, etc.)
    • Cons:
      o It’s used for more than one function, this complicates things
      o Do you need to call 911 or a friend? Some phones you can’t while recording (or the recording will stop when you call)
      o Some phones stop the recording when you get an incoming call
      o Not as small (as other recorders)
      o If the recording becomes a point of dispute (cops want it, etc) you might have other sensitive info on the phone that you don’t want out of your hands
      o Some phones record in weird, non-standard file formats, making it a pain to convert them later on your computer
      o Does the phone (or the recording app) keep the display on? Yeah, you don’t want that.
      o If you’re recording extended periods of time, a dedicated device is the choice
Note: Android-based phones have the capability to be able to still record with other phone calls going on, other apps going on. Not all Android versions, but most. Apple iPhones are limited with the incoming/outgoing phone calls stopping any recording apps. This is a limitation Apple built into the device.

Smart watch:
    • Pros:
      o It’s with you
      o Isn’t pocketed away, so doesn’t get “clothing sounds” and records audio well
      o If the screen’s not on, then nobody will know it’s recording
    • Cons:
      o Many smartwatches have limited recording function (5min max, or other oddities)
      o Tapping into the recording app isn’t covert and people will figure out that you’re doing...something
      o Some smartwatches have the display on when recording, so not covert

MP3 Player (with voice recording)
    • Example: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NCQR4R6
    • Pros:
      o Small (even downright way-tiny! These things can get real covert)
      o Recording quality can be good (but some models not so much)
      o Ease of use: some models are great at this, some are just ok
      o Having a dedicated device does show that you recognized there was an issue well ahead of time
    • Cons:
      o Depends on the brand model, some off-brands are lousy with audio and some are lousy on the steps to get to the recording function. But others are just fine.
Last edited by spritom on Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby Trevor » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:33 pm

Nice work, sprittie.

You're the first one to step up and actually draft an update to part of the List for 2017. Thank you for your effort, you've set a good example for the rest of us.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby Havalu7 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:28 pm

Thanks Spiritom as that is a comprehensive post that took some effort.

Thanks again as this will be good for referring those who must be "suggested" several times as to why the digital audio recorder is hands down the best way to go.

I see my retired Sony sitting in a drawer and remember the load it took off my mind knowing it was humming along in me pocket to protect me from the false DV accusation.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby HaltAndCatchFire » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:42 pm

Great info! Building on top of that, here are Sony ICD-PX333 specific recommendations:

  • Disable the beep. It's on by default. You do not want to tip your hand when your battery gets low, or when your storage is almost full.
  • Buy the 32Gb MicroSD card ($11 on Amazon). Using default device settings uses 2.1Gb for 24 hours (each 6 hour file is 524.1 Mb). Recording 24/7 when living with your STBX uses up the built-in storage (4Gb) quickly.
  • If you buy lithium batteries instead of alkaline batteries for extended battery life, be aware that your battery power indicator is mostly useless. It will remain at 100% until the battery is almost dead. I've stopped using lithium batteries for this reason.
Any recommendations how long to keep audio recordings around for if you're only using it to protect against fake DV charges? 14 days? Too dependent upon your local jurisdiction to generalize?
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby massdad1234 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:50 pm

with a litany of cloud storage options, I think it is an easy choice to keep them all. Personally, I am keeping a rolling 2 months worth of recordings.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby HaltAndCatchFire » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:56 pm

massdad1234 wrote:with a litany of cloud storage options, I think it is an easy choice to keep them all. Personally, I am keeping a rolling 2 months worth of recordings.

So no concerns with interrogatories or discovery about recordings of exchanges between the parties? For example: Any, and all, video, DVD's, audio or other recording(s) of any conversation, altercation, or exchange of any kind between you and the Plaintiff.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby TJinCA » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:13 pm

I’m not necessarily questioning the practice of carrying an audio recorder, I understand that’s the common wisdom here. But I do have a couple of questions:

1. OP on this post says that “most always, the only place such a recording would see the light of day is in court.” But other posters on other threads have emphatically asserted that “it’s not for court.” They pretty much say it’s to play for LE when they’ve been called on a false allegation of DV, in order to demonstrate that a) the person recording was not the aggressor; and b) the person recording anticipated a potential false charge and was proactive in providing “evidence” (even if inadmissible) that the allegation was false. So mostly to help LE figure out the best way to handle the situation.

2. I’d like to hear from an actual law enforcement officer or someone who had played their recording for a LEO for that purpose. I understand the theory and although I have no argument against it, I’d be interested to hear actual evidence that that’s an effective use of an audio recording.

3. OP kind of brushed over the legalities, I think. I believe in most jurisdictions, recordings obtained without the knowledge of the other party in a place (like the home) where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy are not admissible (which seems to go against the “most always…” advice cited above). In California (a two-party state with fairly robust privacy laws) recording someone without their knowledge or consent is a crime (Penal Code 632, $2,500 fine and/or imprisonment for up to a year) and can also make the recorder liable for civil penalties ($3,000 or treble damages, whichever is more). So in that situation, doesn’t covert recording make you vulnerable to a valid criminal complaint and a potential civil suit, from someone who’s potentially unstable, has a lawyer and already hates you?

4. That said, is there a reason why the recording has to be covert? I understand that the other party must not be given access to the device or the archived audio files, but as long as the device is secure on your person and your storage is secure why couldn’t you send your STBX (and her lawyer) a letter stating that you will be recording all interactions and that as long as she’s been informed of this you assume that anything that she says is being recorded with her consent. That seems like it would clear you of legal complications, help ensure that recordings would be admissible evidence, and also potentially have a desirable deterrent effect.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby Trevor » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:30 pm

1. Read the next couple bullet points after the one you cited. The explanation is there.

2. LEOs have posted here on the topic, or (which is most of the time) our guys state that the LEOs who have come to their homes on such calls tell them - "you need to be recording." LEO friends of our members have told our guys the same thing. Our evidence is consilience - the number of guys who were not frogmarched to the back of a police cruiser while their kids watched is strong evidence. If you want numbers, you'll have to read the threads and tally them for yourself.

3. In the decade plus that I've been here, I recall exactly zero examples of anyone being cited, let alone convicted of this. Indeed, the fact that someone is willing to risk that infraction supports the idea that the guy feared a false allegation. It's just never happened. Could it happen? Sure. What would you rather suffer, a misdemeanor conviction or losing significant chunks of time with your kids, in addition to a weekend in jail?

4. It depends on your situation. If you are married to someone who sucks as a wife but isn't an irrational person, knowing the conversation is being recorded might well be enough. She could know that her choice is not to speak around you, and to keep everything to email. But accusing someone falsely of DV is a nuclear option, and we've found that secrecy provides an opportunity for her to lie to the faces of the cops (without knowing that evidence exists that will expose her treachery), then be subject to the recording which exonerates the dad and demonstrates that she will lie to screw him in divorce, is better than the same situation where she's had time to concoct alternative facts.
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Re: 2017 version - audio recording hardware

Unread postby a dad » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:26 pm

TJ, our state is an all party ("two party") state so I'm generalizing my response to include those of us in these states.

I recommend keeping the recorder discreet at all times around any and every one. Only we know it exists, except for that cop at the door that's already siding with the ex.

If cought, claim it's for "personal note taking", which has been successfully used in court to defend others in other situations, not necessarily anybody here.

Cops in two party states have told members here that they wish everyone had the foresight to record because it makes their job easier. And that's one of the things about divorce, you should always be trying to make everyone's job easier, from the cop at the door, to the lawyer, to the judge.

Furthermore, false dv can be the most catastrophic issue for divorcing men. Recording is the defense. And that's really the reason to record.
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