Your Rights In Videotaping Police Interactions In Florida
Disturbing incidents involving police abuses and allegations of misconduct have regularly made headlines over the past several years. Many of these involve serious personal injuries suffered both by alleged suspects and innocent bystanders, with an alarming number of incidents proving fatal for those involved. In many cases, the only reason the public is aware of what happened is that someone was on the scene videotaping it with their cellphone. Find out more about your rights in this situation and how recordings could impact your case if you are charged with a crime in Seminole.
Is It Legal To Record The Police In Florida?
Laws regarding recordings of interactions with others vary from state to state. Under Section 934.03 of the Florida Statutes, wiretapping, audio recording of communications, or taking videos of others is illegal unless all parties consent. This is a serious offense that could result in third-degree felony criminal charges. However, there is an exception when it comes to police stops and other law enforcement interactions.
As the police are considered public servants, they do not have the same expectation or right to privacy as individual citizens, provided they are on the job or otherwise performing work-related duties. This means that you have the right to record them and any interactions you have with them, either when stopped or being held for questioning or as an innocent bystander or witness to an incident.
At the same time, there are some stipulations. To protect yourself, the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advises the following:
- Inform the officer that you are videotaping or recording the interaction;
- If you are a suspect or stopped for questioning, do not resist and comply with requests to show identification;
- As a bystander or witness, keep a reasonable distance away from whatever is happening;
- Whether as a suspect or a witness, take care not to impede the officer’s investigation during the course of your recording.
Provided you exercise caution and follow these instructions, police officers are not permitted to stop you from recording, seize your device, or otherwise penalize you for your actions. In this situation, play it safe and use the ACLU’s free Mobile Justice app. It sends a transcript of the incident to the local ACLU office and alerts other app users in the area of the incident, so that they can act as witnesses as well.
Share Your Recording With Our Pinellas County Criminal Defense Attorney
Video and audio recordings of police interactions can help in holding law enforcement officers accountable when abuses happen. If you are stopped, questioned by the police, or charged with a crime, these recordings may serve as valuable evidence. They can help in building a strong legal defense by documenting important details, such as procedural errors or civil rights violations.
In this situation, call or contact The Reep Law Firm online right away. Request a consultation with our Seminole criminal defense attorney, who can review your recordings and advise you on the best course of action.