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View Full Version : Can My Security Footage in My Home Be Used Against Me?


HeyHomie
07-28-2011, 08:32 AM
DISCLAIMERS: I am NOT seeking legal advice. Don't need answer fast. You are not my lawyer. I am not your client. This is all hypothetical. Yada yada yada....

Let's say that a homicide has taken place in my home. Let's also say that I have security cameras in my home and that there is no doubt that the security footage would positively identify the murderer. Let's also say that I'm a suspect.

Can the footage be seized as evidence? It seems to me that this somehow comes up against the idea of being compelled to be a witness against one's self, as in the 5th Amendment.

Thoughts?

MikeS
07-28-2011, 09:01 AM
I don't see how this would be any different from any other physical evidence of a crime that might be in your home. As long as the police present you with a valid warrant, why wouldn't they be able to search your home (or wherever the recordings are stored) and seize the tapes or hard drives?

The one wrinkle I can think of is if the recordings were encrypted in some way; the question of whether being forced to reveal one's password is a violation of the Fifth Amendment is still a matter of legal debate. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20078312-281/doj-we-can-force-you-to-decrypt-that-laptop/)

md2000
07-28-2011, 09:13 AM
Self-incrimination is about compelling you to testify against yourself. The accused does not have to answer any questions (nor does anyone esle, until they are in court). However, physical evidence is evidence unless it is explicitly protected (i.e. client privilege for a letter you wrote to your lawyer) or excluded (police obtained it illegally).

isaiahrobinson
07-28-2011, 09:14 AM
They can get warrants for camera phones and video cameras, so I don't see why not. You're not being forced to incriminate yourself, it's an independent, external piece of evidence. I don't see why the fact you set it up yourself would change anything.

JBDivmstr
07-28-2011, 09:45 AM
They can get warrants for camera phones and video cameras, so I don't see why not. You're not being forced to incriminate yourself, it's an independent, external piece of evidence. I don't see why the fact you set it up yourself would change anything.

IANAL...
For what it's worth, you now have a quorum that seems to be in agreement, that a video recording, regardless of location, if legally obtained, can be used as evidence against you.

robert_columbia
07-28-2011, 09:50 AM
I recently came across a police scene in the neighborhood. There was a traffic accident in which one person died, and the entire road was closed in both directions.

I approached on foot (police already on scene), and I casually asked a cop if I could take a picture. They said that I could, but if I did, my camera could be seized as evidence.

I didn't take any pictures.

anson2995
07-28-2011, 10:43 AM
The fifth amendment protections mean that you're not required to tell the police you have the security camera footage. But it's admissible.

HeyHomie
07-28-2011, 01:14 PM
the question of whether being forced to reveal one's password is a violation of the Fifth Amendment is still a matter of legal debate. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20078312-281/doj-we-can-force-you-to-decrypt-that-laptop/)

Has any federal judge made a precedent-setting ruling in such a case?

MikeS
07-28-2011, 08:22 PM
Has any federal judge made a precedent-setting ruling in such a case?There's United States v. Boucher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Boucher). In that case, though, the authorities already knew what was on the hard drive, which I think is the main difference between that case and the Fricosu case I linked. I'm not a legal eagle, though.

ETA: Oh, and the reason the authorities already knew what was on the drive was because Boucher was crossing the border. According to US v. Arnold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Arnold), searching a laptop that's entering the country does not constitute unreasonable search & seizure.