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Posted on January 8, 2020 in Crime

Are Hidden Nanny Cams or Recording Devices Legal?

It goes without saying that keeping a child safe is a parent’s number one priority. To that end, if we leave our kids in the hands of a caregiver, we need to trust that that person will be responsible. We also live in a time where technology is giving us tremendous capabilities in terms of video and audio recording.

Now, given these realities, you may be motivated to install what are known as “nanny cams” in your home in an effort to be sure your children are being properly cared for. These devices are any type of wireless or wired form of video surveillance used in-home to monitor the activities of a babysitter. But, if you do decide to use these devices, keep in mind that they are illegal under some circumstances.

Video Cameras in Private Homes

That said, generally speaking, installing video cameras in private homes is legal in Arizona. Further, you don’t need to first obtain permission from the person you are monitoring, such as your child or the babysitter.

However, keep in mind that you are not permitted to install a camera in places outside of your home without the consent of the subject being filmed. Examples of these locations would be the babysitter’s house or a childcare facility.

Surreptitious Videotaping

It’s important to note that a certain type of filming is considered illegal in Arizona. Specifically, “surreptitious videotaping,” which involves the recording or secret viewing of another person, with or without a device, is against the law. However, note that the recording or viewing must be done without the person’s consent and under one of two scenarios.

The first scenario involves viewing or videotaping someone in a bathroom, bedroom, or anywhere else that one has a reasonable expectation of privacy, provided that the person is urinating, defecating, dressing or undressing, nude, or having sex.

The other scenario involves recording or viewing someone in any manner that that directly or indirectly captures the person’s genitalia, butt, or female breast – clothed or unclothed – that is not otherwise visible to the public.

Note that this law applies to cameras installed in private residences. Further, the statute does not only make filming illegal. It is also is a crime to view or photograph a person in these contexts.

Now, if no device was used in the commission of this crime, it is considered a class 6 felony. This can result in a punishment of between 6 months to 1.5 years in prison. If a device was used, the crime becomes a class 5 felony, which can result in a prison sentence of between 9 months and 2 years behind bars.

Note that all felonies committed in Arizona subject the offender to a fine of up to $150,000. Further, in these cases, the prosecutor can file what is known as a special allegation of sexual motivation. This means that if it can be shown that the motivation for filming was of a sexual nature, the offender would be required to register as a sex offender.

Exceptions to Surreptitious Videotaping

Keep in mind that the law on surreptitious videotaping does not apply in all situations. One exception to this rule is if the videotaping is done for security purposes in places where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom. In this situation, notice must be clearly posted in the filming location.

There is also an exception that allows the use of child monitoring devices. However, note that the device can only transmit audio and must be used for the purposes of child supervision or safety monitoring by the parent or other guardian.

Audio Recordings

Now, bear in mind that the law has different rules that apply to audio recordings. Specifically, Arizona is known as a “one-party consent” state. This means that only one person involved in a conversation must agree to be recorded. Therefore, it would be permissible to record your conversation with a nanny or caregiver without their knowledge.

However, note that you can’t record a babysitter having a conversation with another person without at least one person’s consent. This is true regardless of whether the communication happens in person or over the phone.

In Arizona, a violation of this statute is considered a class 5 felony. This can result in a prison term of between 9 months and 2 years. The offender may also face up to $150,000 in fines. For this reason, many nanny cams do not record audio.