On December 5, 2019, in a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court in the case of People vs. Guzman, declared prosecutors can use secretly recorded conversations and they are, therefore, admissible in criminal cases. This decision does not change the illegal status of secretly recorded conversations that are inadmissible in civil cases. Pursuant to Penal Code section 632, it is illegal to secretly record a private conversation without the express consent of the other person.
The California Supreme Court followed a line of cases that extended the principles set forth in the ballot measure entitled Proposition 8, passed by California voters in 1992, referred to as Marsy’s Law or the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act, which among other things, sought to allow all relevant evidence in a case to be admitted into evidence in a criminal preliminary hearing and criminal trial. In reaching its conclusion, the Court rejected the argument by the defense that such a ruling would violate the defendant’s right to privacy.