Video evidence of police interaction can sometimes be the difference between a conviction and freedom. Often in the courtroom, it's a police officer's word against the defendant's; and the officer's testimony carries more weight. If you're going to record when you're being stopped by police, it's important to know the rules. Often-times they will confiscate your camera or charge you with obstruction of justice or disorderly conduct for recording them. Here's a basic overview of how to record police during a stop:
Know the law:
Texas is a one-party consent state; that means you do not need permission to record police in the line of duty as long as you are not interfering with their work. This doesn't mean they won't retaliate by confiscating your camera or charging you with obstruction of justice, but you can't be charged for illegally recording them.
Don't record them secretly:
To completely avoid legal repercussions, make sure the police are aware that they are being recorded. DO NOT try to secretly record private conversation between police officers without their knowledge.
Ensure your recording device will work:
Phones generally need at least 500 MB of free space to record about 5 minutes worth of video. Audio recordings require much less space. Many apps offer instant downloading of videos to the internet; if the police destroy your phone, this is the only way to ensure your recording makes it to court.
Password protect your phone:
Officers will often search your phone after an arrest with or without a warrant. Without a pass-code, they not only won't physically be able to access your phone, they won't legally be allowed to either.
It's important to watch the watchers; while recording police can have repercussions, if done correctly the arrested will generally come out ahead. If you find yourself in trouble with the law, The Law Office of Paul Previte can help. For more information, please give us a call at (817) 857-6307.