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Michigan’s One-party Consent Rule

Recording conversations of which you are a participant.

If you are personally participating in the conversation, then you will benefit from Michigan’s one-party consent rule. This is because participants cannot eavesdrop on their own conversations. See Sullivan v. Gray, 117 Mich. App. 476 (1982), in which the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the eavesdropping statute does not apply to a participant in a private conversation, because eavesdropping is defined as the overhearing or recording of “the private discourse of others.”

Additionally, absent a request that discussions be held ‘off the record,’ it is only reasonable to expect that a conversation may be repeated.  Because the participants may expect a conversation to be repeated, a participant may tape-record the participant's own conversation.

You cannot record a private conversation or eavesdrop on a private conversation, which you are not a party to.  A third-party cannot be involved in recording a conversation at your request.

Federal and Michigan state law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties.  Under a one-party consent law, you or your patient, can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation. Clearly, this means your patient is allowed to record the conversation between the two of you.  This is called a "one-party consent" law.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted "one-party consent" laws and permit individuals to record phone calls and conversations to which they are a party or when one party to the communication consents.