The rise of police brutality and questionable traffic stops has caused a rise in filming police officers. It seems as though there is a new case of a police officer being filmed every day. But the most glaring question that is often overlooked is: is it illegal to film police officers?
Filming the Police and the First Amendment
In general, it is legal to film police encounters if the encounter is public. This means that if police activity is occurring in another person’s home, someone cannot simply enter to record police activity.
Another limitation of filming police activity is whether or not their work is being interfered with. If there is a crime scene present and clear boundaries are set, those filming the police may be instructed to keep their distance. If the filming party crosses the boundaries or otherwise interferes with police work, the filming party could find themselves obstructing justice.
Can the Police Stop You from Filming?
So long as the person filming is not on private property or interfering with a police officer’s work, the officer cannot stop the person from filming. Moreover, a police officer cannot confiscate the person’s device for filming or while filming, either. So long as the recording is not interfering with a police officer’s work, it is up to the person filming deciding whether or not they want to stop.
Recent events in the media has encouraged many to keep their cameras and smartphones close when police are around. Barring certain pre-requisites listed above, a person is within their right to film a police officer.
If you or someone you know are in need of criminal defense, contact an attorney with years of experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today to schedule your case evaluation.