Did Johnny Depp Violate the Law when he Recorded a Telephone Call with Amber Heard without her Prior Knowledge or Consent?

Written by: Mark Gabriel, Esq.

Most people are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Johnny Depp and his estranged wife Amber Heard. The public is also privy to certain recordings, readily available for public consumption online, recorded by Johnny during telephone calls with Heard. However, the first question that many may ask is whether it is legal to record telephone conversations when the person on the other end is not aware that the call is being recorded. Another issue that arises is whether the recordings are admissible evidence in the couple’s various legal battles.

In New Jersey and the majority of states, it is legal to record a telephone call with another person so long as you are a party to the call. New Jersey and other such states are therefore called “One Party Consent States.” Other states, like California, are “All Party Consent States” because they require that all parties to the call consent to the call being recorded. I am unsure of where Johnny was when he recorded his telephone call with Amber Heard but a tricky issue could arise if Johnny was physically present in a One Party Consent State and Amber was physically present in an All Party Consent State. If Johnny was in New Jersey and Heard was in California when the call was recorded, based on California law, Johnny could be criminally charged by the State of California even if he was in New Jersey at the time of the call.

It is important to be aware of the wiretapping laws in the state where your divorce is taking place.  If you plan on recording a telephone call for use in a family law matter, you may want to check with your attorney before moving forward. Generally speaking, if a litigant violated the wiretapping law when recording a telephone call, the Court in a civil proceeding would likely deem that such a recording is not admissible as evidence. However, if done properly, recordings can be very useful in family law matters.

If you or someone you know has questions about recording and wiretap laws, please contact my office at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we specialize in all facets of family law and are uniquely suited to handling such matters.