The Second Department applied a “vicarious consent” theory to reject the defendant’s argument that the father’s recording of the defendant berating and threatening the father’s child violated the eavesdropping statutes, Penal Law 250.05 and CPLR 4506. Father had called mother’s cell phone which mother answered without speaking. Father could hear the defendant speaking to the child over the phone and recorded the defendant’s words. In addition to the “vicarious consent” discussion, he Second Department noted that a variance between the jury instructions and the charges in the indictment was harmless error because there was no possibility the guilty verdict was based upon a theory not in the indictment. With respect to the “vicarious consent” to the recording, the court wrote:
While … Penal Law § 250.05 serves the strong public policy goal of protecting citizens from eavesdropping, we are not persuaded that the New York Legislature intended to subject parents to criminal penalties when, “out of concern for the bests interests of their minor child, they record that child’s conversations” … . Given the similarity between the federal wiretap statute and New York’s eavesdropping statute, and recognizing that the “vicarious consent” exemption is rooted on a parent’s need to act in the best interests of his or her child …, we deem it appropriate to adopt it as an exemption to Penal Law § 250.05.
Here, the People sufficiently demonstrated that the father had a “good faith, objectively reasonable basis to believe” that it was necessary for the welfare of the infant to record the conversation …, such that he could consent to the recording on the infant’s behalf … . Accordingly, the “vicarious consent” exemption applies, and admission of the subject recording was not barred by CPLR 4506. People v Badalamenti, 2015 NY Slip Op 00384, 2nd Dept 1-14-15