Can I Film the Police?

When you’re out in public, you’re allowed to take photographs and even video of things and even people that are out in the open (plainly visible) – it’s a constitutional right. This includes taking pics or videos of people, transportation facilities, the police and even government officials while they’re carrying out their official duties.

Now that practically everyone seems to be carrying a smartphone around, more (and more) people are capturing their encounters with the police on video. Whether the recording is made with the purpose of creating a viral YouTube video, or winning a criminal court case, something keeps happening – law enforcement officers are often ordering citizens to stop taking photographs and recordings in public places and many people are being arrested after they fail to comply.

What Rights Do People Have to Take Pics or Video?

1.) If you’re in a public place and you’re lawfully allowed to be there, you can take pictures or video of anything that is in plain view.

2.) If you’re on private property, you can’t necessarily take photographs or video of what you want; you may need the property owner’s consent before taking pics or video. If the property owner tells you not to take pics or videos and you fail to comply, the property owner can order you to leave their property and have you arrested for trespassing if you don’t honor their wishes.

3.) As a general rule, the police cannot confiscate your smartphone or demand to view your pics or video recordings without a warrant. If you are arrested and the police take your phone, they may try to scrutinize your phone. It is possible for the courts to approve the seizure of your cellphone if there is probable cause that the phone contains valuable evidence of a crime. Read more about cellphone searches here.

4.) Under no circumstances are the police to delete a photo or video recording on your smartphone.

For further information regarding your rights to film the police in Orange County, California, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.!

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