How Far Do Privacy Rights Stretch for a Child’s Safety?
by cjleclaire
May 17, 2016 | 36313 views | 0 0 comments | 397 397 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
A father recorded a conversation between his son and his ex-wife’s live-in boyfriend. Later on, when he turned in the recording as evidence, the boyfriend’s attorney challenged the admissibility of the recording, calling it illegal eavesdropping.

According to ABC News, the boy was five years old and the father decided in good faith that recording the violent conversation he was overhearing was necessary for his son’s protection. Months later, on when neighbors called the police because they heard screaming and crying, the father turned in the evidence. Authorities arrested the live-in boyfriend, Anthony Badalamenti, and he was convicted of child endangerment, assault and weapon possession.

The ruling set a precedent for parents being able to eavesdrop on their children when it is done in good faith for the child’s protection.

However, the judge in the case cautioned about certain limitations, including:

  • Age and maturity of the child when considering eavesdropping
  • Not using it as an excuse for illegal wiretapping
  • Not eavesdropping as a parent when doing so in bad faith

The ruling does not establish whether a parent can eavesdrop when an older child explicitly refuses to allow it during conversations with the other parent.

This case appears to set a broader precedent about parental eavesdropping than a similar earlier case. An earlier court ruling from a Brooklyn judge allowed evidence from a mother who placed a recorder in her autistic son’s backpack due to suspected abuse by his bus matron.

It will be interesting to see how New York case law develops regarding parents who eavesdrop on children.

If you have questions about whether to record events involving your child, discuss your concerns with attorney Chris Palermo He will be glad to answer your questions and provide you with effective legal guidance.




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