A few months back, we wrote a blog concerning a young man who videotaped his experience at a DUI checkpoint with a police officer who asked him to do a few things that the cop had no right to ask him to do. As a result, the officer’s likeness appeared on many news stations and websites; it also gave people a better idea of what their rights are in situations involving DUI checkpoints, routine traffic stops, and other criminal or police conduct. Videotaping officers “in the act” has recently brought up a debate about what is lawful when it comes to police recorded contacts with the public.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts and Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake answered a few questions about the legalities of recording. We want you to know your rights and we also want you to know that you are well within your rights to voice record, videotape, and take pictures of police officers while they’re conducting official business, especially if it involves you, as in the case of the young man at the DUI checkpoint. Officers also do not have a right to seize your recording equipment from you for the purpose of deleting or changing any evidence. Make sure that you are legally allowed to be present when recording, though, or this could cause problems for you down the line. You are not supposed to loiter and you certainly cannot get in the way of the police discharging their official duties.
Another question that has come up in regards to recording is the use of video cameras by officers. Oakland, California officers are supposed to be wearing video cameras while on duty, but this raises privacy questions for victims of domestic abuse as well as some other issues for the officers in question (who presumably don’t want to be filmed at all times). Even so, cameras are a better choice in terms of keeping the public and the police on their best (and most legal) behavior as they struggle to interact with each other in a lawful and mutually respectful manner.
It is important to know your rights so that if you’re ever charged with a crime and the police are acting unlawfully, you have proof of the unlawful behavior. You have the right to videotape the whole thing. It is also more important than ever that you remain silent, though, as anything you say at that point will be recorded and can be used against you in a court of law, as well.
To learn more about our blog, Do You Know Your Recording Rights Under Baltimore Law?, or to schedule your free consultation regarding a DUI or criminal matter, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.