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Primer on the Use of Tape-Recorded Evidence (From The Litigation Manual, P 764-772, 1989, John G Koeltl, ed. -- See NCJ-117323)

NCJ Number
G S Jacobson; S T Jacobson
Date Published
9 pages
This article discusses basic issues in admitting and suppressing tape-recorded evidence.
A tape recording made with the consent of one party to the conversation is constitutionally valid without prior judicial authorization or probable cause. Interception of a conversation without the consent of any of its participants invokes the protection of the fourth amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. Bases for suppressing tape recordings of such conversations are that the communication was unlawfully intercepted (no warrant), the order under which it was intercepted is insufficient on its face, or the interception was not made in conformity with the order of authorization or approval. Close scrutiny of the eavesdropping warrant and comparison with the requirements of the statute are essential. There are two acceptable foundations for tape-recorded evidence. One involves a witness to the conversation testifying that he/she has listened to the recording and that it is a fair and accurate representation of the conversation he heard. If this is challenged, the alternate proof is the chain of custody of the tape to establish that everything said was recorded and that nothing has been altered. Identification of the speakers generally may be made by anyone familiar with the speaker's voice.


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